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Who Is Lamashtu? The Exorcist: Believer's New Demon Explained
Demonology expert Dr. Scott Poole tells us about the newest entity to rear its evil head in the 50-year-old franchise.
With The Exorcist: Believer now streaming exclusively on Peacock, fans of the 50-year-old franchise are free to dissect and analyze every single aspect of David Gordon Green's latest horror film — be it the reunion between Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn, or the brand-new demon introduced to the cinematic canon.
Similar to Pazuzu in the 1973 original (helmed by the late William Friedkin), Believer's supernatural entity is never named aloud. With that said, eagle-eyed viewers sticking around for the end credits have brought our attention to the story's hellish parasite, "Lamashtu," portrayed by Lize Johnston in heavy makeup and prosthetics during the exorcism sequence.
"She loves causing a stir, to say the least, when it comes to children and their parents," the actress wrote on Instagram last month once the SAG-AFTRA strike had officially come to an end. "Playing Lamashtu was such an honor, and I'm so proud to have been a part of this amazing project. I still can't believe I got to play the demon in The Exorcist. What a dream!"
The Exorcist: Believer demon explained
Stemming from Mesopotamian mythology, Lamashtu was often associated with miscarriages and the premature death of newborn children, which ties directly into the traumatic birth of Angela Fielding in earthquake-stricken Haiti at the start of Believer. Interestingly, tokens of Pazuzu were used by pregnant women to keep Lamashtu's sinister presence at bay.
"Lamashtu is a stealer/killer of infants and it's in this role that she is sometimes shown as (weirdly) adversarial to Pazuzu," Dr. Scott Poole — a history professor at the University of Charleston and a published authority on popular culture and horror — tells NBC Insider over email. "Amulets as protection against demons were common in Mesopotamia and wearing one of Pazuzu was a peculiar kind of St. Christopher medal if you were of childbearing age."
Partaking in some speculation, Dr. Poole theorizes that the 2025 sequel, The Exorcist: Deceiver, may dive into how Lamashtu influenced Jewish folklore surrounding Lilith. Commonly known as "the redacted 'first wife of Adam,'" Lilith is "portrayed as vampiric and, in more modern accounts, a kind of monster against the patriarchy." Fittingly enough, in Believer, Chris MacNeil (Burstyn) throws shade at the Catholic Church's own brand of patriarchy while recalling her daughter's exorcism to Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom Jr.).
"A lot of interesting things going on here," Dr. Poole concludes. "I'm not sure how I feel about a 'Pazuzu vs. Lamashtu' on the order of Freddy vs. Jason, but I'd watch it..."
How to watch The Exorcist: Believer right now
As of this past Friday, The Exorcist: Believer is streaming exclusively on Peacock. The NBCUniversal platform currently offers two monthly subscription plans: Premium ($5.99 a month with ads) and Premium Plus ($11.99 a month with no ads and download access for certain titles). If you're a student, you can enjoy the Premium plan for just $1.99 for an entire year!
Will there be a physical release of The Exorcist: Believer?
Yes, there will be! If you feel compelled (pun intended) to collect physical media, you can possess (pun also intended) the 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD editions on Tuesday, December 19. Special features are as follows:
- "Making a Believer"
- "Ellen and Linda: Reunited"
- "Stages of Possession"
- "The Opening"
- "Editing an Exorcism"
- "Matters of Faith"
- Feature Commentary with co-writer/director David Gordon Green, executive producer Ryan Turek, co-writer Peter Sattler, and Special Makeup FX Designer Christopher Nelson
"The original Exorcist is an all-time horror movie classic that had an interesting (to say the least) release date of the day after Christmas in 1973. And to this day, it remains — for many — the scariest movie ever made," Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst at Comscore, tells NBC Insider. "The Exorcist brand enjoys a box office legacy and cultural relevance that, some 50 years after the original, still possesses a whole new generation of fans that have now made The Exorcist: Believer the second-most successful of the series."
Will there be a sequel to The Exorcist: Believer?
An entire trilogy of new Exorcist films was announced in 2021 following Universal and Blumhouse's acquisition of the rights for an impressive $400 million. The second chapter — The Exorcist: Deceiver — is currently slated for release on April 18, 2025. A title and date for the third movie have yet to be revealed.