How David Gordon Green's Exorcist Sequel Will Differ From His Halloween Movies

Upon first glance, William Friedkin's 1973 seminal horror masterpiece doesn't exactly scream franchise potential. Based on William Peter Blatty's 1971 novel of the same name, "The Exorcist" is a chilling and achingly patient horror film about the terror of watching an innnocent child fighting for her life against a demon. I'd initially forgotten how clinical Friedkin's film is, presenting the series of events as so matter-of-fact that the terror of her possession derives from its own sense of tangibility.

"The Exorcist" became a franchise against all odds, and a weird one at that. The last time this series came to theaters was in the span of one year with two terrible prequels ("Exorcist: The Beginning" and "Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist"), with both sharing the same cast, but not the same story or tone. But in spite of the ups ("The Exorcist III") and downs ("Exorcist II: The Heretic"), it was only a matter of time until someone gave it another go.

Director David Gordon Green, in association with the folks at Blumhouse, is helming not just a legacy sequel, but an entire trilogy of films. The ruling is that it will ignore all of the previous sequels and start fresh, much like his "Halloween" trilogy.

But Green assures that his approach to the split pea soup-spewing demon greatly differs from that of the knife-wielding slasher.

The Exorcist and Halloween are two completely different beasts

In an interview with Collider, Green talks about how moving onto "The Exorcist" after "Halloween Ends" is like playing in an entirely different sandbox with a whole new set of rules:

"Halloween is a horror movie, it's a slasher movie, it's midnight madness, good time at the movies, eat some popcorn. The Exorcist is a very researched drama about f***ed-up things — spirituality, religion, mental health, family — and it' can overlap those two in these very different subgenres of horror, but the approach technically, creatively, is very different."

While I want to feel excited for what Green has in store, it's difficult not to think of how there's a very high chance that the patience of the original film will be thrust aside in favor of more modern horror trends. After all, the fact that we have a new series of "Halloween" films is a case of business as usual. Slasher sequels are the name of the game.

There's no end to Michael Myers, but how do you naturally build off of the somber ending of Friedkin's film for franchise potential? At least "The Exorcist III" took things in such a wildly different direction that it compliments the original.

David Gordon Green feels guided by the presence of Ellen Burstyn

When this trilogy was announced, it came as a shock that Ellen Burstyn would be returning as Chris McNeil. I understand why he would want her back though. She is the emotional lynchpin to "The Exorcist," as a mother frightened by all of the dead ends to her daughter's scientifically unexplainable transformation.

Green talks about having Burstyn on set as an invaluable means of perspective means a great deal in doing justice to a revered classic (via Collider):

"She's there to evaluate, give me notes on the script, and she's become like my spiritual guru that I go to, which...just the way that the film affected her life, we found ways that the story we're creating affected Chris MacNeil in certain ways."

Even though she already did this circus in the late '90s, I imagine the pressure of having Jamie Lee Curtis back to "Halloween" also came with its own set of responsibilities. Having Burstyn back after such a long period of time fascinates me with the project, if only out of sheer curiosity.

The only details we have gleaned from Green's project is that it stars Leslie Odom Jr. as a desperate father who turns to Burstyn after his child has become possessed by a demon.

There's an irony in "The Exorcist" getting the legacy sequel treatment given that the Fox television show a few years back returned to the well of Friedkin's film, with Geena Davis as an adult Regan. With Linda Blair not returning to the role of Regan, it's assumed that the casting of Ann Dowd signals her replacement.

"The Exorcist" is currently streaming on HBO Max.