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Monday, June 24, 2024

The Exorcist: Believer (4K UHD Review)


The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements


Two girls disappear in the woods and return days later miles away with no memory of where they were. One girl's father brings in Chris MacNeil who realizes immediately what is going on based on her experience fifty years earlier with her daughter.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Director David Gordon Green (Halloween Ends) works with other contemporary horror creators and co-writes with Peter Sattler (Camp X-Ray) and Scott Teems (Insidious: The Red Door) for The Exorcist: Believer, a story that acts as a sequel to the original 1973 film The Exorcist.

An unoriginal update on the classic film that is too beholden to honoring the original than offering something fresh, the story starts in Haiti where Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom, Jr.) loses his pregnant wife in an earthquake in Haiti, but his unborn bay daughter survives. The story then shoots forward thirteen years, Victor’s daughter Angela (Lidya Jewett) is thriving, and he is an understandably overbearing, overprotective father. She is starting to want to learn more about her mother and she and another girl, Katherine (Olivia O’Neill), have a plan to help her communicate with her dead mother. The two girls go missing and strangely reappear three days later in a barn thirty miles away with no memory of what happened and feeling they were only gone for a few hours. Something is off with both of them and they start displaying strange behavior. Victor, an atheist, turns to Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), who was once a nonbeliever herself. She recognizes what is going on immediately, having gone through the same with her daughter Regan (Linda Blair) fifty years earlier.

David Gordon Green does a good job for most of the film placing The Exorcist: Believer in the world of the original film through the use of his color palette, the camera angles, lighting, and score. Things get very askew in the final act that is too much of a carbon copy of the older film, in both the setup and the visual effects, but this is no longer as shocking, or original. Burstyn’s appearance adds the authenticity the film needs.

The idea of doing a sequel for this classic that continues the story from fifty years ago while honoring that original was always going to be a difficult task. The unanswered questions and obvious imitations of iconic moments make this film, while not terrible, not able to reach the level of William Friedkin’s horror masterpiece.

  • Ellen Burstyn and Leslie Odom Jr. in The Exorcist: Believer (2023)
  • Olivia O'Neill and Lidya Jewett in The Exorcist: Believer (2023)
  • Ann Dowd and Lidya Jewett in The Exorcist: Believer (2023)
  • Olivia O'Neill and Lidya Jewett in The Exorcist: Believer (2023)
  • Ellen Burstyn in The Exorcist: Believer (2023)
  • Antoni Corone, Ann Dowd, Raphael Sbarge, Olivia O'Neill, and Lidya Jewett in The Exorcist: Believer (2023)
  • The Exorcist: Believer (Universal)
  • The Exorcist: Believer (Universal)

The Video

The Exorcist: Believer possesses 4K Ultra HD with a 1.85:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision encodement. Shot on the Arri Alexa LF and Arri Alexa Mini LF cameras in ARRIRAW 4.5K and 3.8K resolutions. The film is muted yet cinematic and filmic. The filmmakers have done their best to keep this from looking too digital and to mimic the atmosphere of the original film. The detail comes through, even as there is an inherent, artistic ‘softness’ in the overall look. The color palette does not ‘pop’ much, but the Dolby Vision grading does provide exceptional dynamic range and shadow nuance, along with a good amount of specular highlights.

The Audio

The English Dolby Atmos mix for The Exorcist: Believer is good, but it does not take the fullest advantage of the format for this sort of film concerning the overheads. Atmospherics are excellent and during the exorcism scenes activity ramps up, with good clarity in the effects and dialogue and a good amount of extension into the low end.

The Supplements

A Movies Anywhere digital code is included alongside a standard HD Blu-ray with the feature film. The on-disc bonus features listed below are on both discs.

  • Feature Commentary with Co-writer/Director David Gordon Green, Executive Producer Ryan Turek, Co-writer Peter Sattler, and Special Makeup FX Designer Christopher Nelson
  • Making a Believer (4K; 00:08:45)
  • Ellen and Linda: Reunited (4K; 00:04:32)
  • Stages of Possession (4K; 00:06:03)
  • The Opening (4K; 00:06:18)
  • Editing an Exorcism (4K; 00:04:34)
  • Matters of Faith (4K; 00:04:24)

The Final Assessment

An underwhelming sequel that is better than previous sequels but not anything memorable, classic, or even exceptionally horrifying. The 4K Ultra HD disc, however, is a satisfying slab of home theater fodder.

The Exorcist: Believer is out on 4K Ultra HD Combo December 19, 2023, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

  • Rating Certificate: R (for some violent content, disturbing images, language and sexual references.)
  • Studios & Distributors: Universal Pictures | Blumhouse Productions | Morgan Creek Entertainment | Rough House Pictures | Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Director: David Gordon Green
  • Written By: Peter Sattler | David Gordon Green | Scott Teems
  • Run Time: 111 Mins.
  • Street Date: 19 December 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
  • HDR10 Metadata:
    • MaxLL: 922 nits
    • MaxFALL: 208 nits
    • Minimum Luminance: 0.0050 nits
  • Primary Audio: English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Compatible)
  • Secondary Audio: Spanish DD 7.1 | French DD 7.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH | Spanish | French

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Two girls disappear in the woods and return days later miles away with no memory of where they were. One girl's father brings in Chris MacNeil who realizes immediately what is going on based on her experience fifty years earlier with her daughter. The Exorcist: Believer (4K UHD Review)