In 1973, audiences were left horrified when they first saw the demon-possessed Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist. All these years later, the terror is still here as we continue to experience many new additions to the franchise. Of course, some are better than others. With the upcoming release of the first movie, The Exorcist: Believer, of a sequel trilogy, rewatching the older movies might be on your mind. Here’s how you can watch them in chronological order:
Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)
A prequel to the original, this movie tells the story of how Father Merrin first encounters the demon Pazuzu, decades before the possession of Regan MacNeil.
The film was not well received and is considered one of the worst entries — scoring only 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. The main criticisms include the excessive gore, special effects that haven’t held up over the decades, and presents an origin story that was not needed.
Another version was released in 2005 as Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist. This was the original version of the film, from director Paul Schrader, and was received somewhat more positively.
The Exorcist (1973)
Directed by William Friedkin, this is the film that started this classic saga of demonic horror.
Regan MacNeil is a teenager seemingly being possessed by a demon. Her mother calls in two priests, and the iconic exorcism takes place.
Lauded as one of the greatest horror movies of all time, The Exorcist holds up well today and is sure to continue giving audiences scares for years to come.
Watching the innocent Regan MacNeil slowly deteriorate into a vulgar, disgusting demonic vessel is still haunting even 50 years later.
With an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, The Exorcist is still the best-rated entry in the series, with the effects and atmosphere being praised.
The Exorcist is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime.
Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
Regan MacNeil returns to battle what remains of the demon Pazuzu in this entry to the series. She is joined by the priest Philip Lamont, and together they discover that demonic possession carries more effects than they imagined.
Exorcist II: The Heretic was lambasted by critics upon release and is still criticized today. The bulk of the criticism comes from the strange powers given to possession victims, making the story feel disconnected from the first film.
From the Rotten Tomatoes critic’s consensus: “Hokey mystical effects, lousy plotting, and worse acting directly tarnishes the first’s chilling legacy,” earning it a poor 10% rating on the site.
The Exorcist III (1990)
Officer William Kinderman investigates a series of murders that appear identical to those of the Gemini serial killer. The problem is that Gemini couldn’t have committed these killings as he’s been believed dead for over a decade.
The Exorcist III is easily the best entry after the original and also features a more original story. We step away from the point of view of a priest and instead are thrust into a story more akin to a police procedural.
The plot connects well to the original film and matches it in terms of the scare factor.
The movie holds a score of 57% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the bulk of the praise going towards the pacing and scares.
New Sequel Trilogy Coming in October 2023
A sequel trilogy is in the works from Universal Pictures. The first of the sequel trilogy, The Exorcist: Believer, will release in theaters on October 13, 2023. For more, read our article on the Best Horror Movie Franchises of All Time.
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