David Gordon Green hoped that The Exorcist director William Friedkin would live to see The Exorcist: Believer.
Friedkin, who died in August 2023 at the age of 87, directed the original 1973 film “Exorcist,” which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director. Green is directing a new “Exorcist” trilogy for Blumhouse and Universal Pictures; The first installment, The Exorcist: Believer, marks the return of original actress Ellen Burstyn to the franchise 50 years later. (It also received terrible reviews.)
Green told the Academy of Motion Picture Arts: A frame that while he “never communicated with Friedkin,” he was “curious” what the legendary filmmaker would think of “Believer.”
“I would have liked that,” Green said of seeing the Friedkin film. “I was looking forward to showing him the film because I have never communicated with him. As far as I know, he didn’t want to be involved in the film’s production, but he would share his thoughts with us after the film.”
Green continued: “I was very curious to see what he would think, because I know he was very critical and open-minded, but he was also a brilliant man.” He didn’t have to love my film, but I could learn from him, because he made many of my favorite films. Like everyone else, I was saddened by his death and am looking forward to his new film [‘The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial’] come out. Everyone needs to recognize that so many of the films he made are monumental and will live forever and influence filmmakers like me for years to come.”
Green called “The Exorcist” a “groundbreaking film” that changed the horror genre forever.
“It’s a film of unsettling drama, or as William Friedkin, the director of ‘The Exorcist,’ called it, a theological thriller,” Green said. “You see a lot of horror movie gimmicks come and go and have their trends and fads, but ‘The Exorcist’ feels so grounded. It feels like it’s on Earth. It’s very observational and clinical. It could happen. In many ways, the documentary approach has inspired us along the way, and I think that timelessness is of great value.”
The late filmmaker Friedkin told IndieWire in 2018 that “The Exorcist,” an adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s novel of the same name, was a film that questions faith, rather than a classic horror film.
“People call it a horror film. Blatty and I never talked about a horror movie,” Friedkin said. “We made a film about the mystery of faith, which was his concept, his idea, his belief system.”