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By Victoria Alexander

They threw out the playbook. What made the iconic film was its MENACE, not the swirling head.

In February 2022, the National Catholic Register posted an article on the annual weeklong course on the ministry of exorcism and prayers of liberation for exorcists and those who assist them. The 2022 Exorcism course was the 16th edition that took place in Rome, with the participation of around 120 people, most of whom come from countries outside Italy, including the United States, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Spain and Nigeria.

While only a priest can perform the Rite of Exorcism, laypeople often assist at the Rite with prayers. When someone is believed to be having trouble with demonic oppression or possession, psychologists or other medical professionals may also be called in to perform examinations, to rule out natural causes for disturbances.

Only priests can perform the Rite of Exorcism? Now that isn’t very inclusive, is it? What about giving actors of every ethnic group equal starring roles in movies? Isn’t there a casting quota in place? What about voodoo and Scientology? All churches should be able to perform exorcisms. This is not the current cultural milieu to ostracize any spiritual groups. We are not part of the social environment that eliminates other religions from combating Satan.

CNBC.COM headline reads: “The Exorcist: Believer’ and Hispanic audiences: A match made in horror movie heaven.” The article says “Hispanic and Latino viewers will have a big say in how “The Exorcist: Believer” does at the box office, no matter what. They tend to represent 26% of horror movie audiences, compared with 20% for other genres, according to the Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak Audience Survey.”

Historically, black people are not abducted by aliens – that they know of. Aliens only seem to have hybrid children with white people lacking higher educations. For what it is worth, Satan is not a racist.

The Rite of Major Exorcism (there is a Rite of Minor Exorcism) is to be administered only by an authorized priest or bishop. If it is deemed useful, members of the lay faithful may be present for the rite, supporting the work of the exorcist by their prayers either recited privately or as instructed in the rite. However, the text cautions that the lay faithful are not to recite any prayers reserved to the exorcist, not only because the prayers are reserved to those ordained to act in the person of Christ the Head, but also to protect the faithful from possible spiritual harm.

What about a lapsed nun? Doesn’t she count?

The Hollywood Reporter reported that Universal Studios paid $400 million for The Exorcist rights alone. THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER is the first in an ambitious planned horror trilogy. The second will be THE EXORCIST: DECEIVER (planned for 2025) and the third will be THE EXORCIST: HELL NO!

Only one white child possessed by Satan? What about all the black children that are possessed? Priests only can perform the Rite of Exorcist? That was then, now, a psychic, a voodoo practitioner, a Brujeria cleansing, a bitter neighbor (Ann Dowd), a non-dominations pastor (Raphael Sbarge), a Hispanic Catholic priest (E. J. Bonilla) and a homeless guy living on a park bench, are all welcome to join in destroying Satan taking control of two innocent souls.

Well, they were not that innocent. They did lie about where they were and what they were doing.

The movie begins in Haiti, because earthquakes are the work of Satan. Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom, Jr.) blames himself for leaving his pregnant wife in a building that collapses. The doctors give Victor, a “Sophie’s Choice.” Pick one to save, your wife or your child. It’s 12 years later and Victor is a great father to his 12-year-old daughter, Angela (Lidya Jewett). Angela is a good girl, but she lies and tells her father she is spending the night at her best friend Katherine’s (Olivia O’Neill) house. Three days later, Victor is in a murderous rage: where is Angela? Katherine’s parents (played by Jennifer Nettles and Norbert Leo Butz) were told by their daughter that she was staying at Angela’s house. The girls are found but without any knowledge what had happened to them.

The hospital team only know that the girls were lost in the woods. We know they were performing some adolescent rite because Angela wanted to contact her mother using her mother’s scarf. But Victor always felt his dead wife’s things were sacred and he took it away from Angela the morning he dropped her off at school. Bad move, because the girls were not protected, and an evil presence slipped inside both of them. Don’t you hate when that happens?

Without medical and a psychiatrist’s help, Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) is called in. Once a bitch, always a bitch. Apparently, the possession of the girls was just Satan’s ruse to meet up with MacNeil again. What, a text message from Hell couldn’t get through?

What the original THE EXORCIST had was a sense of menace. But with all the social engineering the writers (Peter Sattler, David Gordon Green, Scott Teems) and director (David Gordon Green) were inflicted with by Universal - let’s hope this is the reason - this is the mess we get.

The dark presence of Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow) and Father/Dr. Damien Karras, S.J. (Jason Miller) is summarily dumped. They just could not top these two. The Catholic bishop rejects the claim of possession, denying their priest’s plea. What can be done except? Well, we are all here and the beer is in the cooler. So let’s make a magic circle from Aleister Crowley’s instruction manual and nail two chairs to the floor and bring in the girls. Now, Satan having seen the SAW movies, says: “Let’s play a game.” Which one lives, which one dies?

How this is resolved requires a second screening, but the good news is the ending. I assume Ellen, even if dead, will be in the trilogy.

I doubt the director or writers will be punished by this mess, after all, they did exactly what they were hired to do. No originality was required. Green’s career will not take the hit.

The ALL is Mind; The Universe is Mental.”

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer Critic. For a complete list of

Victoria Alexander's movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes go to:

Contributing to: FilmsInReview: FilmFestivalToday:

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society


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