Ellen Burstyn is back as Chris MacNeil in Universal’s upcoming The Exorcist movie. Burstyn originated the character in the franchise’s first outing in 1973. In the new film, she’ll be joined by series newcomers Ann Dowd, Leslie Odom Jr., and Jennifer Nettles. Directed by the Halloween franchise’s David Gordon Green, the new Exorcist movie is a legacy sequel to the original and is also the first in a trio of planned films.
Now, Universal has offered a look at 2023’s The Exorcist during its CinemaCon presentation, which Screen Rant was present for. In addition to confirming the new film’s official title – The Exorcist: Believer – new footage was screened for attendees.
Odom Jr. and Nettles are confirmed to be playing parents whose two daughters become possessed and go missing. The footage also revealed the first look at Burstyn’s return as she comes face to face with one of the girls. Read a full description below:
The Exorcist: Believer footage begins with Odom Jr.’s daughter being sent to the hospital after being found in the woods. He laments the fact that she has been missing, saying, “Baby you’ve been gone three days.” Later on, she begins to shudder in true Exorcist fashion, only now multiple young girls are also exhibiting signs of possession. One of the girls is depicted visiting a church and screaming, “The body and the blood! The body and the blood!” Another moment from the footage reveals Burstyn in character as Chris MacNeil coming to the aid of the afflicted families and telling one girl, “We’ve met before.”
What Role Does Chris MacNeil Play In The Exorcist: Believer?
This footage presents a very interesting glimpse at what exactly is going on in The Exorcist: Believer. Although there have been several other films in the Exorcist franchise, the demonic possessions have never been this far-reaching, affecting so many people at once. However, it’s unclear exactly what part MacNeil plays in these proceedings.
It had already been revealed that Odom Jr.’s character was going to approach MacNeil once his daughter became possessed. However, this new footage would seem to imply that she is more involved in the new spate of exorcisms than merely giving advice to a troubled parent. The “We’ve met before” line especially implies that she has been involved in fighting demonic forces for some time since audiences last saw her in the original Oscar-winning 1973 film.
This could mean that Burstyn’s role is mimicking one of the priests from the original The Exorcist. It is currently unknown exactly how much screen time the actress has, but it seems more likely that she will be a Father Merrin figure rather than a Father Karras. She will likely play an important but supporting role in the goings-on while a younger priest does more direct battle with the evil, perhaps even sacrificing her life to save that of another young girl.