Roll up, roll up – it’s here: not a new Exorcist film, but Mark Kermode’s takedown of a new Exorcist movie.
Anyone with even a passing interest in the film critic would know that William Friedkin’s 1972 horror film The Exorcist is his all-time favourite film.
Over the years, Kermode, who calls The Exorcist a “masterpiece”, has written essays and books on the film, and his passion for it has been so enthusiastic that he became friends with both Friedkin, who died earlier this year, and the film’s writer William Peter Blatty.
With a new Exorcist film released on Friday (7 October), titled The Exorcist: Believer, many were excited to find out what Kermode’s verdict on the fiml would be. They might have been excited to learn they had a new Kermode rant on their hands; he despised it.
In his review, which was featured on the latest episode of podcast Kermode and Mayo’s Take, Kermode tore into The Exorcist: Believer, arguing that writer-director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, the recent Halloween reboot) and co-writer Peter Sattler misunderstood Friedkin’s original.
“It is a movie made by people who have seen the original but have not seen the original,” he said, adding: “They’ve watched it but they haven’t understood it. They have quoted it without ever taking on board any of what it meant.
Kermode highlighted several plot inconsistencies that suggest the writers missed key details from the first Exorcist film, and decried the usage of Ellen Burstyn, who reprises her role of Chris Macneil, the mother of the possessed Regan (Linda Blair) in the first film.
“Note to writers: turning Ellen Burstyn into a Basil Expostion character who just gets to read huge screeds of explanatory dialogue is not the best use of Ellen Burstyn.
“The original specificlaly avoided any explanation – this explains everything. I love Ellen Burstyn [but] I hope she has done wonderful things with the money they have paid her for doing this.”
He said “despite the stupidity of it all, it is staggeringly dull”, adding: “This is just trash. It is not scary at all.”
He went onto call it “as bad as it could have been and then some” and, when Mayo asked him what the best part of the film is, he replied: “It ends.”
Listeners of the review were left hugely entertained by Kermode’s rant, with one listener writing: “I already knew what Mark’s opinion would be but I had to watch his rant just for the entertainment value. He did not disappoint.”
Another added: “I think it truly delivered and was everything I could have hoped for... Mark’s rant that is,” with an additional fan calling the review the “best Kermodian rant” since his famous review of Michael Bay’s 2013 film Pain & Gain.
Read The Independent’s review of the “boring” and “self-serious” The Exorcist: Believerhere.