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The Ending of The Exorcist: Believer Explained
Let's break down where the latest Exorcist sequel leaves the story.
Spoilers for The Exorcist: Believer!!
The Exorcist: Believer is finally here, marking the first time the franchise has hit the big-screen in nearly 20 years and, of course, the start of a new trilogy spearheaded by director and co-writer David Gordon Green. The latest installment in the 50-year-old horror franchise has a lot of new elements to celebrate, from a new possession narrative to new families facing down the ultimate evil, which means there are also lots of new possibilities when it comes to how the story will continue from here.
So, now that we've seen the film, let's take a closer look at that ending, and what it could mean for the franchise going forward.
What happens in The Exorcist: Believer?
First, let's back up: The plot of Believer is relatively simple. Two teenage friends, Angela (Lidya Jewett) and Katherine (Olivia Marcum) disappear in the woods one day while trying to perform a little ritual between the two of them, and end up summoning something dark that possesses them both. When they come back, their strange and violent behavior leads Katherine's parents Miranda (Jennifer Nettles) and Tony (Norbert Leo Butz) to believe that the girls are demonically possessed. Angela's father Victor (Leslie Odom Jr) doesn't want to believe that, but his neighbor Ann (Ann Dowd) convinces him otherwise.
So, Victor goes looking for help from someone who has a lot of experience with exorcisms: Actress and author Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), whose daughter Regan (Linda Blair) was possessed back in 1973. Armed with knowledge and determination, the parents form a group of supporters, and set out to drive the demons out of their daughters, no matter the cost.
How does The Exorcist: Believer end?
It's a grueling experience, and as the film nears its climax, it seems all hope is about to be lost. Chris is blinded by the demon. Victor grabs a scarf that belonged to his late wife, wraps it around his daughter, and convinces her how loved she is, how much he always wanted to be with her, how much he wants her to stay with him. It's enough to bring Angela back from the brink, but unfortunately at the same time, Tony falls into the trap set by the demonic presence in both girls. During the exorcism, the demon told the parents that they had to choose one girl to live, while the other would die, and while Victor and Miranda were unwilling to do that, Tony breaks and declares that he chooses Katherine.
Sadly, it was either a trick by the demon, or was overridden by Victor's love for his daughter. At that moment, the evil presence flees Angela, and both girls seem to die in their parents arms. Only Angela wakes up, leaving Katherine's family devastated and Victor forever a believer in some form of God once again after years without faith.
It's a devastating, bittersweet way to end the film, but the story's not done yet. Back in her hospital room, still recovering from her wounds after being blinded by the demon, Chris gets a surprise visitor: It's Regan (Linda Blair), who'd long been in hiding in the way of her possession celebrity, returning to comfort and be with her mother at last. We only get a glimpse of their time together, but it's clear it's been a long time coming, and there are perhaps hints that Regan felt something shifting in the universe in the same way Chris did, something compelling her to go back to her family at last.
What's next after The Exorcist: Believer?
So, we've got one girl lost to possession, one survivor, and the two original victims of The Exorcist's demonic world reunited once again. Katherine's parents are devastated, while Victor is grateful for his renewed life with Angela, and Ann is more invested than ever in the importance of hope and perseverance in the face of evil. It's a very solid ending to this particular story, but we know it's not the end. A follow-up film, The Exorcist: Deceiver, is already in the works, which of course leaves us asking: What now?
For the moment, at least, it feels like there are three main threads to consider. One is Victor, who got his daughter back with a lot of help from others, finding a new community in the process, and came out of it with a renewed sense of belief. He also came out of the experience knowing that he was directly helped by someone who'd been there before, who agreed to step into harm's way, and was actually harmed, in service to his daughter. With that in mind, it's easy to imagine Victor's story continuing into the sequel, as he uses his own experience to help other suffering from possession.
The second is Ann, a woman who was going to become a nun until a pregnancy and abortion made her step away from her vows and become a nurse instead. By the end of the film, with the Catholic Church brushing the exorcism aside, Ann realizes that her purpose in life wasn't to be a nun. It was to be here, at this time and place, to help Angela and Victor get through their possession experience. She tackles the exorcism with the full force of her faith and spirit, and not only survives it, but gains a new sense of perspective in the process. It's very easy to imagine her continuing to work as an exorcist of some kind in the future, helping other families and, perhaps, continuing to battle the same demon that took Katherine from her parents.
Then, of course, there's the story of Regan and Chris, who've just reunited after a very close call between Chris and yet another demon. It's not clear yet how much these characters will remain a part of the franchise going forward, but it would be very interesting to see what Regan makes of this new wave of possessions, assuming Deceiver will give us yet another case to look forward to. With Chris sidelined for much of Believer's ending, it would also be a chance to get both characters a little more involved in the overarching narrative of the trilogy, whatever that story may be.
Any one of these stories could step forward into the spotlight, or a combination of all three could emerge when the sequel arrives in 2025. However it all shakes out, we know that the Devil is out there, and that he won't stop.
The Exorcist: Believer is in theaters now. Get tickets at Fandango.