The Exorcist III recaptures the creepy atmosphere of the original, but it never quite reaches the same heights. Exorcist II: The Heretic was so bad that original writer William Peter Blatty had to develop his own story to make up for it. Legion is the official sequel to the Exorcist novel. When movie plans fell through and original director William Friedkin left, Blatty directed the movie himself. The Exorcist III is more thriller than horror with a lot of talking. I was a little confused and a bit bored, but this is the closet an Exorcist movie has come to the acclaim of the original. Although its R rating is almost as tame as The Heretic.
The Exorcist III can feel a little on the nose with less cringy attempts at levity. An unusual dream sequence literally features Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Ewing, and Fabio. The Exorcist III ignores The Heretic to focus on Lt. Kinderman from the first movie now played by George C. Scott. He’s now friends with Catholic priest Father Dyer also from the first movie dealing with another crisis of faith. 15 years after the original exorcism, a deceased psychopath called the “Gemini Killer” reamerges with a new set of victims. The movie is more of a detective story set in a mental hospital. As a Christian, I was most disturbed by what they did with religious imagery. The most well executed scare involves a nurse attacked in a tension inducing build up.
Legion refers to multiple demons possessing one body. Despite falling to his death on the Exorcist steps, Jason Miller returns as Father Karras. Regan MacNeil doesn’t appear since Linda Blair was busy becoming a sex symbol and doing an Exorcist parody called Repossessed released the same year. They understandably never use the name Pazuzu, but Chucky himself Brad Dourif is meant to be the “Gemini Killer” inhabiting Karras’ body. This was meant to be the extent of the movie’s supernatural element until the studio insisted there be an exorcism in a movie called The Exorcist III. The reshot ending is incidentally to blame for the movie’s inconsistencies. The Exorcist III has its defenders, but I can’t imagine the Director’s Cut would make a difference.
Preceded by: Exorcist II: The Heretic