After director David Gordon Green revived the Halloween franchise with his sequel trilogy, Universal hired him to do the same with The Exorcist – making a direct sequel to the original film and launching a modern franchise. And now we have The Exorcist: Believer, which is positioned as the first part of a new trilogy (the theatrical release is probably still pending).
Despite this franchise plan, Believer functions fairly independently, offering the opportunity to continue the story while concluding things in a way that would work pretty well if they weren’t doing anything else. However, it’s difficult to talk about it in these vague terms – it’s time to spoil something.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for the entire plot of The Exorcist: Believer, including the ending.
Plot summary of The Exorcist: Believer.
Believer begins in Haiti, where Victor and his pregnant wife are on their honeymoon. But an earthquake occurs and she is injured when a building collapses. The doctors tell Victor that they can save the mother or the baby, but not both – and he has to choose.
Cut to the present. Victor has a 13 year old daughter named Angela, his wife is dead. Angela is of course a bit obsessed with her mother since she never knew her, and one day she steals one of her mother’s old earrings and goes to the house with her friend Katherine Forest to perform some light rituals. They don’t seem to take it too seriously, but the demons hear them anyway.
The girls disappear without a trace and reappear a few days later in a barn many miles away, believing they were only gone for a few hours. From there we get the usual demonic escalation. They initially seem relatively normal but traumatized, and then they gradually become grosser, grosser, and uglier as the demon’s presence becomes more apparent to both Angela and Katherine.
Victor calls Chris McNeil, the mother from the original Exorcist film. But there’s not much she can do to help, other than hearing some mean comments about her daughter Regan (the girl who was possessed in the original film) and getting stabbed in both eyes by Katherine. Both things illustrate the stakes and reality of possession, and so Victor, Katherine’s family of evangelicals and her pastor, as well as several concerned neighbors (a Catholic and a Pentecostal) prepare for the big, climactic exorcism scene. And in addition to the three Christian variants, Victor also recruits a pagan priestess to join in the fun.
However, no Catholic priest is initially involved because the local diocese has banned the neighborhood priest from taking part. But he believes the possession is real, and as the exorcism begins, he sits outside in his car and prays. Things are pretty bad inside and the good guys aren’t really making any progress. Sensing this, the priest decides to show up and bring the power of Christ with him.
So he comes along and starts performing his rituals on the demon-possessed girls. The film shows that it works, as the music plays triumphantly as the priest performs the entire exorcism routine. But it’s just a ruse – the demon doesn’t care at all about the priest’s exorcism rite. And it demonstrates this by telekinetically causing the priest’s head to rotate all the way back until he is dead.
What happens at the end of The Exorcist: Believer?
From there we see two important developments. First: The demon reveals that Victor told the doctors in Haiti to save his wife all those years ago. not his daughter. But her injuries were too severe and they eventually had to save Angela, against Victor’s current wishes.
The second big thing: The demon says that Angela and Katherine’s parents can decide which of the two girls gets to live and which has the unholy privilege of returning to hell with the demon. Victor says nothing – he and Katherine’s mother agree that they cannot make this decision and decide to fight for both of them. But the demon says that if they don’t decide, it will cost them both. And after more fun hours with demons, Katherine’s father gives in to temptation and chooses her.
From there everything is done pretty quickly. It turned out that the demon had tricked them – the one chosen would die, and the other would survive. So Katherine’s spirit is dragged to hell and Angela is allowed to live, just like Victor’s decision did all those years before.
As far as horror movie endings go, that’s a pretty good one – it’s deeply disturbing in the moment, and once those raw feelings wear off, it’s just plain depressing. That’s great. But knowing that two sequels are on the way changes the perspective a bit. It’s not hard to imagine that this group will face even more demons in an attempt to save Katherine from her damnation.
The sequel, scheduled for 2025, is already subtitled “Deceiver” – a good title for a film in which the characters wrestle with the consequences of being tricked in such a horrific way. The possibility that Katherine could return from her fate theoretically softens the emotional impact of this ending, but we still have a while before we find out anything about Deceiver. And it’s likely that critics’ unenthusiastic response to “Believer” will lead to some sort of adjustment in their plans for the story.
But as it stands now: Angela is alive and recovering from her ordeal, and Katherine is in hell. But with two more films to come, it’s hard to expect the situation to stay that way.
Is there a mid-credits or post-credits scene in The Exorcist: Believer?
No, there are no additional scenes or references to future Exorcist films in the credits. So once the credits roll, you can safely go to the bathroom if you need to.
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