- The success of the Halloween reboot trilogy influenced the plans for The Exorcist trilogy.
- The Exorcist: Believer disappointed viewers and failed to bring anything new to the franchise.
- Both the Halloween sequels and The Exorcist: Believer lacked originality and favored fan service, leading to their failures.
The future of the reboot trilogy of The Exorcist is now looking uncertain, but the problems it’s currently facing are revealing a harsh truth about 2018’s big horror revival. The horror genre has been going through a trend of reboots and requels that have been used to bring back some of the genre’s most popular and profitable franchises. While some have succeeded, as is the case of the Scream franchise, this formula hasn’t had the same effect in all horror franchises that have tried to make a comeback with it.
Among the most recent franchises that joined the requel trend is The Exorcist, which was revived with the 2023 movie The Exorcist: Believer. Directed by David Gordon Green, The Exorcist: Believer is a direct sequel to William Friedkin’s 1973 horror classic and follows Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom Jr.), a photographer who is forced to confront the nadir of evil when his daughter Angela and her friend Katherine show signs of demonic possession. Unfortunately, The Exorcist: Believer wasn’t the exciting return to the franchise that viewers expected, making the future of the trilogy uncertain while also bringing to light the tough truth of the 2018 horror revival that made The Exorcist: Believer possible.
The Exorcist: Believer builds to a final exorcism to deliver an ending with twists and sequel setup. Here’s everything that happens and what it means.
The Success Of 2018’s Halloween Led To The Exorcist Trilogy Plans
Halloween was successfully revived in 2018.
The Exorcist: Believer and the trilogy plans that came with it were possible thanks to the success of the Halloween reboot trilogy. In 2018, Blumhouse brought the Halloween saga back to life with a requel simply titled Halloween. Directed by David Gordon Green and written by Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride, and Green, Halloween is a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 movie of the same name, thus ignoring all sequels and timelines that came after it. This allowed the writers to bring the saga’s Final Girl, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), back with a new story in which she wasn’t related to Michael Myers, but their traumatic encounter on Halloween night, 1978, deeply affected Laurie for the rest of her life.
Halloween was a critical and commercial success, with critics praising Green’s direction, Curtis’ performance, and the movie’s darker tone, which made it easier for the studio to move forward with two sequels. The success of Green’s Halloween was highly influential in the horror genre as it proved that a dead horror franchise could be revived, and inspired the revival of other horror franchises, such as Candyman in 2021, Scream (which also planned a reboot trilogy), and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, even if not all of them succeeded. The Exorcist: Believer is also a result of Halloween 2018’s success, and even followed the same formula by being a direct sequel of the first movie and retconning the sequels, with David Gordon Green directing and co-writing along with McBride and Scott Teems.
Everything That Went Wrong With The Exorcist’s New Trilogy Plans
The Exorcist: Believer was a huge disappointment.
Despite being part of a well-known horror franchise and a sequel to what’s widely regarded as the best horror movie ever made, The Exorcist: Believer failed to match what made the first movie so great and scary. The Exorcist: Believer was labeled as an unnecessary sequel as it didn’t bring anything new to the franchise, instead being an all too familiar story of demonic possession that did nothing to shock the audience. This was also a big part of the reason why The Exorcist: Believer wasn’t scary as it made it predictable, and not even the return of Ellen Burstyn as Chris MacNeil was worth it, as she was underused and her role was, ultimately, underwhelming and disappointing.
Despite earning back its production budget and becoming the highest-grossing Exorcist movie since Friedkin’s movie, grossing a total of $137 million, The Exorcist: Believer is considered a flop due to the $400 million that the studio paid for the distribution rights to the franchise. The bad critical reception and box office numbers cast a shadow over the future of the Exorcist reboot trilogy, despite two sequels confirmed to be in development since 2021, with The Exorcist: Deceiver, planned for an April 2025 release. The future of the Exorcist reboot trilogy is now more uncertain after Green stepped down from Deceiver and the movie was removed from the release schedule.
The Halloween Sequels & The Exorcist Trilogy Failed For The Same Reasons
The Halloween reboot trilogy & The Exorcist: Believer lacked originality.
Halloween 2018 was a big success, but the sequels failed to come close to it. Halloween Kills begins minutes after the ending of Halloween 2018, but it didn’t do anything to add to the franchise and felt like a lazy continuation of Laurie, Allyson, and Karen’s worst Halloween night ever. Halloween Kills was labeled as “directionless” and being too concerned with fan service rather than paying attention to the story, and it didn’t get better with Halloween Ends. Despite Curtis warning the audience that Halloween Ends would make people “very angry”, viewers weren’t ready for how disappointing it was. Halloween Ends was criticized for leaving Michael Myers behind to focus on a copycat killer and was described as “uninspired”, “disappointing”, and “poorly executed”, and not even the death of Michael Myers by Laurie and Allyson could save the movie.
Most of the mistakes that the Halloween reboot sequels made were repeated in The Exorcist: Believer. The writers seemed to be more concerned about having enough fan service moments (including a surprise cameo) and Burstyn’s return felt more like an addition for continuity credibility than to properly expand the universe of The Exorcist. The Exorcist: Believer didn’t really add to the mythology of the franchise nor did it offer anything new, making it harder for a sequel to continue what it started.
The Exorcist Proves 2018’s Halloween Should Have Been A Standalone Sequel
The requel formula doesn’t assure success for every horror franchise.
The success of Halloween 2018, the failure of its sequels, and The Exorcist reboot trilogy making the same mistakes proves that Green’s Halloween should have been a standalone sequel instead of a franchise starter. Halloween 2018 actually works quite well when removing the sequels, as it gave closure to Laurie Strode and saw her, her daughter, and granddaughter finally defeating “The Boogeyman”, which also served to fix their relationship as it had been affected by Laurie’s trauma. Halloween 2018 being a standalone sequel would have also influenced other horror reboots and could have saved The Exorcist franchise by giving it a standalone sequel rather than an attempt at a trilogy.
Other horror franchises have benefited from standalone sequels, with the best and most recent example being Evil Dead Rise, showing that it’s possible to revive a horror franchise without having to commit to a trilogy or saga and without having to copy the original movie. The future of The Exorcist franchise and its reboot trilogy doesn’t look good, but it has to learn from the mistakes of the reboot that made it possible.