David Gordon Green’s reboot Exorcist: Believer reportedly bombed at a test screening.
Given how cheap the movies are to make and the potential for a major box office return, Hollywood has recently ushered in a horror renaissance. Notably, many of the biggest recent hits have been connected to previous franchises, including successful movies like Scream 6 and Evil Dead: Rise. But that doesn’t mean audiences will flock to any old franchise: as World of Reel reports, David Gordon Green’s reboot Exorcist: Believer completely bombed at a recent New York City test screening.
It may be easy to dismiss this because the tastes and opinions of a single audience in a single city may not be shared by audiences around the world. However, the site points out that in addition to getting a horrified (in all the wrong ways) reaction from the test screening, Exorcist: Believer has also been getting savaged on Letterboxd, to the point that it can be difficult to find many positive reactions. Generally, the audience consensus is that the movie is overly long and not very scary at all, and these are basically mortal sins when it comes to horror films.
Given these reactions to this reboot of The Exorcist, we wouldn’t be surprised if David Gordon Green was worried about losing his reputation as a major Hollywood director. After directing the Seth Rogen comedy Pineapple Express, Green later pivoted to horror, notably directing the recent trilogy of Halloween movies (which ignored all of the previous sequels and reboots and positioned themselves as the true follow-ups to the original John Carpenter film). But those movies were very divisive, with fans complaining about the lack of Michael Meyers in the third film and how over-the-top the second film (complete with its “evil dies tonight” catchphrase) was.
In other words, directing a successful reboot of The Exorcist, generally considered one of the genre’s best films, could potentially cement Green as a legendary horror director on the rise. Given his experience directing the newer Halloween movies, some fans originally made the inevitable comparison that he could be the next John Carpenter. But instead of making killer cinematic faire such as Carpenter’s Escape From New York, Green’s recent movies seem to be as bad as Carpenter’s awful later films (you know, like Escape From L.A.)
Still, this doesn’t mean that Exorcist: Believer is going to be a terrible film by the time it gets a proper release. The entire point of test screenings like this is to determine what works and then tweak the movie with everything from edits to shooting additional scenes. But based on this early feedback, it looks like this movie has a long way to go if it wants to be nearly as scary as, say, Ari Aster’s Beau Is Afraid.
While we doubt that Hollywood will take the hint, it may finally be worth admitting that The Exorcist was never meant to be a franchise. The first film is iconic and the third film is sublime, but the second film is a hot mess and the two prequels in the early 2000s made the Star Wars prequels look like masterpieces. Perhaps David Gordon Green can turn this movie around into something watchable, but so far, it looks like he’s going to need more than an old priest and a young priest to get all of the evil from this film.