How David Gordon Greens Exorcist Trilogy Departs From His Halloween Films

How David Gordon Green’s Exorcist Trilogy Departs From His Halloween Films

David Gordon Green is heading the Halloween reboot trilogy and the new Exorcist trilogy, and while the purpose is the same, they are very different.

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How David Gordon Greens Exorcist Trilogy Departs From His Halloween Films

David Gordon Green is taking over another horror trilogy with The Exorcist, and while the plan for these movies is similar to that of the new Halloween trilogy, there are some important differences between them. The horror genre reached its peak in the 1980s, which saw a wave of successful movies that made way for popular franchises, but it has a lot to thank the 1970s for. That decade saw movies like The Exorcist and John Carpenter’s Halloween, which continue to influence the genre and new filmmakers, and both are going through a revival with new movies.

Halloween was released in 1978 and tells the story of Michael Myers, who on Halloween night 1963, murdered his sister when he was six years old. Michael was sent to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, and fifteen years later, on October 30, 1978, he escaped and returned to his hometown Haddonfield, Illinois, where he began to stalk Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends, with Laurie being the sole survivor. Five years earlier, William Friedkin terrorized viewers around the world with The Exorcist, based on the 1971 novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty. The Exorcist tells the story of Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair), a 12-year-old girl who after playing with a Ouija board comes into contact with the demon Pazuzu. Regan becomes the target of demonic possession, and her mother, Chris (Ellen Burstyn), calls Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) and Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow) for help, who end up performing a dangerous exorcism.

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Both movies had a different impact on the horror genre and have become two of the most influential horror movies ever, but they also made way for franchises that haven’t been exactly successful. However, the recent popularity of the horror genre (thanks to adaptations of famous works and original stories as well) has made it possible to revive these franchises with new movies, which look to continue the legacy of the original one while also telling new, fresh stories. Halloween is counting on the help of David Gordon Green as director and co-writer, and after the success of the first movie in the reboot trilogy, he’s now taking over the new The Exorcist movies – but even though both franchises have similar goals and concepts for their reboot trilogies, The Exorcist has some big differences from Halloween.

The New Exorcist Trilogy Won’t Ignore Past Sequels

How David Gordon Greens Exorcist Trilogy Departs From His Halloween Films

When a new The Exorcist trilogy was announced to be in development at Blumhouse and with David Gordon Green as director, it was immediately assumed it would follow the same formula as the Halloween reboot movies and serve as a direct sequel to the original Exorcist movie, ignoring all the ones that came after it. What’s known about the story of The Exorcist 2 is that it will follow the father (Leslie Odom Jr) of a possessed child who turns to Chris MacNeil for help, thus connecting the original movie with this new story. However, contrary to what has been believed, The Exorcist 2 won’t ignore the other sequels (Exorcist II: The Heretic, The Exorcist III, Exorcist: The Beginning, and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist), as Gordon Green has revealed that they “can all fall into the acceptable mythology” for what he’s doing, which sets it aside from the Halloween reboot movies. David Gordon Green told Total Film (via GamesRadar):

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“The Exorcist has been written. That was one of my pandemic projects. It’s not inaccurate [that it will be a sequel to the original film]. I like all the Exorcist movies, and not only do I like them, I think they can all fall into the acceptable mythology for what I’m doing. It’s not like I’m saying, ‘Pretend that The Exorcist 2 never happened.’ That’s fine to exist. They’re all fine to exist, and I enjoy all of them.”

This immediately sets the Exorcist new trilogy apart from the new Halloween movies and also opens up a variety of opportunities for this particular universe, either by bringing elements from the sequels to the new movies or simply acknowledging them and creating a bigger and cohesive timeline with a common theme.

Why The Halloween Sequels Started Fresh

How David Gordon Greens Exorcist Trilogy Departs From His Halloween Films

In Halloween’s case, the studio decided to ignore all movies after Carpenter’s original in order to properly reboot the franchise. The Exorcist movies jumped back and forth between sequels and prequels but form a somewhat cohesive timeline, whereas the Halloween franchise retconned the timeline a couple of times. The Halloween timeline got so tangled that the story of Michael Myers didn’t make sense anymore, as at one point the writers introduced the Cult of Thorn storyline that added a supernatural element to the famous slasher. Rebooting Halloween, then, required a major retcon, so the writers chose to ignore all sequels and make the new movies direct sequels to the original, so they could tell a coherent story that can serve as the definitive one. Of course, the new Halloween movies have had references to other sequels but as Easter eggs and not as part of the stories, and this relaunch of the franchise has been successful so far.

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Elements From The Exorcist Sequels The New Trilogy Can Explore

Just like Halloween has done with elements from the now ignored sequels, The Exorcist trilogy can take some elements from past sequels to add to the mythology they will build. Although the Exorcist sequels weren’t as successful as the original movie and they are often forgotten by the audience, there are a couple of elements and storylines that could make it to the new trilogy and expand this universe, such as the Gemini Killer one from The Exorcist III (about a serial killer who was used by Pazuzu to take revenge on Karras by possessing him and others to commit a series of murders), Father Merrin’s backstory from Exorcist: The Beginning and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, and Regan’s life after The Exorcist II, this mostly through Burstyn’s character as Linda Blair is said to not be part of the trilogy. Although both trilogies have the purpose of reviving their franchises and continuing the legacy of their first movies, Halloween and The Exorcist are different cases, and they can work on their own timelines and co-exist in the horror genre without a problem.

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