To date, The Exorcist (1973) is considered the most terrifying horror film ever. It is like the perfect example of what horror means and for decades, any attempts to copy its legacy in a series of The Exorcist films have resulted in major disappointments. But after much deliberation, the “direct sequel” to the original film that was announced in 2020 by Blumhouse and Morgan Creek Entertainment is finally moving forward. But surprise-surprise because Universal is planning not one but an Exorcist trilogy and is bringing back a cast member from the original film- Ellen Burstyn.
In The Exorcist, Burstyn played the character of Chris MacNeil, an actress and the mother of the 12-year-old Regan (Linda Blair). Suddenly, after using an Ouija Board, Regan starts exhibiting strange behavior which quickly becomes dangerous and deadly. When all the physicians fail to find an answer, Chris turns to Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) who discovers that Regan is possessed by a powerful demon. The Church sends in a priest to perform an exorcism but the demon kills him, pushing Karras to offer himself as a replacement for Regan. The demon accepts the offer and leaves Regan to possess Karras, after which the priest uses his fast dwindling willpower to kill himself, thus defeating the evil entity.
But apparently, the demon i.e., Pazuzu was not entirely defeated and will be making a comeback in the Exorcist sequel trilogy as reported by The New York Times. As per the report, the first film in the trilogy will see Oscar nominee Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton) alongside Ellen Burstyn who is returning to reprise the character of Chris MacNeil. The actress was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in The Exorcist and by bringing her back to the franchise which hadn’t been faring well since the 1973 film, Universal has already bagged the fans of the original.
While the publication made it sound that David Gordon Green will be directing all the three The Exorcist films, Universal’s official press release (via Slash Film) has clarified that for the time being, the director will only be helming the first film. Green is also serving as its screenwriter. As Morgan Creek Entertainment holds the rights to The Exorcist, the new trilogy will be jointly produced by the production house along with Blumhouse Productions. And Universal Pictures has shelled big bucks- reportedly $400 million- to buy the distribution rights to the films.
The first The Exorcist film will see Leslie Odom Jr. playing the father of a child possessed by Pazuzu, the same demon who possessed Regan all those years ago. Somehow, he will come to know about the demon’s history and will be at his wit’s end when he tracks down Chris MacNeil, as he is desperate for help. While no further details have been shared, reportedly the demon in question won’t be “thrilled” to see Chris again, which is odd because the demon barely exchanged two words with the character in the 1973 film and in fact, succeeded in scaring her. This particular revelation would have made more sense if somehow Jason Miller’s character was returning because the demon has a reason for not really liking him.
Maybe more information about the new The Exorcist will shed some light on this peculiarity as The New York Times has reported that Universal will be officially announcing the trilogy sometime this week. The film’s story has been penned by Scott Teems, Danny McBride, and David Gordon Green while the script comes from Green and Peter Sattler. The first entry in the trilogy will reportedly release in theaters on October 13, 2023.