May 27, 2024

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for “The Exorcist: Believer,” now playing in theaters.

After 50 years, “The Exorcist” franchise is back with “The Exorcist: Believer,” and it returns with some familiar faces.

It was announced early on that Ellen Burstyn, who played Chris MacNeil in the original “Exorcist,” would reprise her role in “The Exorcist: Believer,” which is the start of a brand new trilogy. All three movies will be helmed by director David Gordon Green, who recently rebooted the “Halloween” franchise with its own trilogy and brought back horror icon Jamie Lee Curtis to star.

It seemed inevitable that Green would bring back some of the legacy characters for his new “Exorcist” trilogy, and there was one surprise cast member that wasn’t announced ahead of time: Linda Blair, who played possessed preteen Regan MacNeil in the original “Exorcist.”

In “The Exorcist: Believer,” two young girls, Angela (Lidya Jewett) and Katherine (Olivia Marcum), disappear for three days and return under the possession of demonic forces. Angela’s dad Victor (Leslie Odom Jr.) recruits Chris, who has a lot of exorcism experience of her own, to help save the two girls. It’s revealed that Chris has become an exorcism expert in the years since the original movie, but she lost touch with her daughter Regan and isn’t sure where she is or if she’s even alive.

Unfortunately, Chris becomes blinded by a possessed Katherine, who stabs her in the eyes with a cross, and isn’t able to help with the double exorcism. The joint ceremony is only a partial success, as Angela survives but Katherine dies. In the end of the movie, Chris sits alone in her room and hears her door open. She expects it to be Victor, but it turns out to be Regan, and the mother-daughter duo have a long-awaited reunion.

The scene marks the first time since the original “Exorcist” that Burstyn and Blair have shared the screen, and it’s Blair’s first time playing Regan since “The Exorcist II: The Heretic” in 1977.

There’s already a sequel, “The Exorcist: Deceiver,” set for April 18, 2025. Blair’s cameo suggests that she’ll play a larger role in the upcoming film and perhaps even the untitled third movie. Pazuzu returned and was vanquished in “The Exorcist: Believer,” but, as with every horror movie, no evil spirit ever stays truly dead. A twisted reunion between Regan and Pazuzu seems like it could be in the cards. And after Katherine’s death, would her spirit come back to haunt Victor and Angela?

After earning an Oscar nomination and Golden Globe award for “The Exorcist,” Blair’s career never reached the quite same height. After “The Exorcist II,” she starred in a string of low-budget horror movies that didn’t hit the mainstream and later had a cameo in 1996’s “Scream.” She’s had some small TV roles and appeared on reality shows, like “Drag Race” and “The Masked Singer,” but “The Exorcist: Believer” marks her biggest project in many years.

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