The first big horror release of October, the first of three new “Exorcist” movies, is coming to theaters this weekend. Despite the once-in-a-blue-moon Friday the 13th this October, the studio decided to move the movie back a week to avoid competition with Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour concert film, which is already selling out across the country. It might have been for the best, though, because “The Exorcist: Believer” is pretty much the only major release among a handful of new indies from some very talented directors.
“The Exorcist: Believer” (In Theaters)
Less than a year after director David Gordon Green capped off his trilogy of “Halloween” movies, he’s launching a new one with “The Exorcist: Believer,” a legacy sequel that brings “Exorcist” star Ellen Burstyn back to the fold while doubling down on everything that made the original a classic. This time around, there are two possessions, two families, and two souls to save. Not only that, “Believer” plays around with the religious aspect of the films, incorporating spiritualism and evangelical Christianity into the exorcism alongside Catholicism.
After a strong start to his “Halloween” trilogy, fans were extremely divided on the two sequels. The same is already happening with Believer, with some fans saying it’s a return to form while others are labeling it a cheap cash-grab. However, the director is already signed on to do two more films. The sequel already has a title, “The Exorcist: Deceiver,” and an April 2025 release date.
“Foe” (In Theaters)
Paul Mescal’s surprise Oscar nomination for last year’s “Aftersun” was the moment that Hollywood introduced one of its newest leading men. He’s already co-starring in Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator” sequel and it just seems like this guy has nothing but greatness ahead of him. The only issue is, whenever an actor suddenly steps into the limelight, all the shelved movies they’ve been in seem to come out all at once. There’s no way of really knowing if Mescal’s latest film was shelved, but it kind of seems like it was.
Basically, a shelved film is one that was completed but not released, oftentimes to wait for one of its stars to suddenly become extremely popular, like Mescal did after “Aftersun” came out. Not all shelved movies are bad! Some of them, like “Cabin in the Woods,” end up being pretty great. Unfortunately, “Foe” doesn’t seem to be one of those movies. Set in 2065, the film follows two married farmers who are presented with a strange opportunity. One of them (played by Mescal) will be able to go to space while the other (played by Saoirse Ronan), would be provided a robot to take her husband’s place.
“The Royal Hotel” (In Theaters)
Kitty Green is one of the best directors around right now. She already has four feature films under her belt, each one better than the last. Her latest, “The Royal Hotel”, reunites the director with actor Julia Garner, following their collaboration on “The Assistant.” The new film is based on the true story of two backpackers looking for work who become trapped in a small Australian community.
You either like Green’s films or you don’t. Her patient and calculated style isn’t for everyone, but there are few directors today able to find tension quite the way she’s doing it. If nothing else, “The Royal Hotel” is just further proof that she’s one of the most interesting, talented filmmakers working today.
“She Came to Me” (In Theaters)
Speaking of directors who are doing things a little differently, Rebecca Miller is back with her latest film, “She Came to Me.” The director, most well-known for “Maggie’s Plan,” plays around with rom-com conventions and tries to keep it all as honest as possible.
“She Came to Me” follows a creatively blocked composer struggling to complete his new opera. However, he sets out on a journey of self-discovery after his wife urges him to find what he’s looking for. We’re not quite sure what to expect from this one, but Miller is a very good director who isn’t afraid to explore the joys and contradictions of loving another person.
Josef Rodriguez is a writer, filmmaker, and film critic living in New York City.