We’ve known for a while that Halloween reviver David Gordon Green was planning on taking a crack at the Exorcist franchise for the indie horror hit-makers over at Blumhouse, but today comes confirmation of one important detail in particular: According to Green, the film will indeed be a direct sequel to the 1973 original. We don’t know if that means that Green’s take on The Exorcist will return any of the characters from the original, such as Regan MacNeil, but in an interview with Total Film, Green seems to suggest that all possibilities are on the table. He even goes on to say, in fact, that the previous Exorcist sequels can also coexist with his new canon.
“The Exorcist has been written,” said Green, referring to the script for the new film. “That was one of my pandemic projects. It’s not inaccurate [that it will be a sequel to the original film]. I like all the Exorcist movies. And not only do I like them, I think they can all fall into the acceptable mythology for what I’m doing. It’s not like I’m saying, ‘Pretend that The Exorcist 2 never happened.’ That’s fine to exist. They’re all fine to exist, and I enjoy all of them.”
Defending 1977’s Exorcist II: The Heretic on any level is actually a pretty bold stance to take, considering the universal derision that critics and audiences have held for the film over the years. Somewhat more appreciated (but still very divisive) is 1990’s Exorcist III, which took the franchise in a significantly different psychological horror direction. Still, it’s a far cry better than the truly insufferable Heretic, which is routinely regarded as one of the worst horror sequels of all time.
Said Green on the project of taking on the legacy of The Exorcist, after reviving Halloween: “It’s another fun legacy to be a part of, and hopefully we’ll get that going in the near future. That one is a lot of research, rather than just impulsive screenwriting. That’s one that you talk to a lot of people. You read a lot of books, and do a shit-load of interviews. There was such a dramatic authenticity to what that original film is. It’s a lot more than I anticipated getting into it. And I guess I was naive to think that. But it was very exhilarating to be involved in a lot of those conversations that you find yourself in.”
The idea of doing more of a direct sequel to the original Exorcist, meanwhile, was actually explored pretty well in the FOX TV series The Exorcist in 2016, but the series suffered from low viewership despite strong reviews. There hasn’t been a theatrical take on The Exorcist since the much-maligned Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist in 2005, so here’s hoping that Green can break what has been quite a lengthy losing streak.