A Star From The Handmaid’s Tale Has Joined The Exorcist Reboot

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By Douglas Helm
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Fans of 1973’s The Exorcist can start getting excited about the sequel, as they continue to stack the cast with some top horror talent. The latest addition to the cast is Ann Dowd, who is known for her roles in The Handmaid’s Tale and Hereditary. She’ll be starring alongside Leslie Odom, Jr. and Ellen Burstyn. Burstyn will be reprising her role as Chris MacNeil from the original movie.

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Ann Dowd in The Handmaid’s Tale

The previously announced continuation of The Exorcist is being brought to screen by horror specialists Blumhouse along with Morgan Creek, Universal, and Peacock. Last year, Universal and Peacock managed to snag the Exorcist franchise in a $400 million deal. Blumhouse is trusting the new film to director David Gordon Green, who has been handling Blumhouse and Miramax’s entries to the Halloween franchise. Ann Dowd and Gordon Green’s history should help make the film something special, as Gordon Green first spotted her in an Off-Broadway play and suggested her for a role in the film Compliance, which he was executive producing at the time. The pair would work together again in Our Brand is Crisis in 2015. David Gordon Green also co-wrote the script for the new Excorcist film with Peter Sattler from an original story he wrote with Sattler, Scott Teems, and Danny McBride.

With Ann Dowd, Leslie Odom Jr., and OG cast member Ellen Burstyn on board, Universal and Peacock are likely hoping to capture even a smidgeon of the magic of the 1973 original. The Excorcist was a smash hit, which is rare for a horror film in general, much less one in 1973. Not only did it gross over $441 million, a record for the highest-grossing horror film that it still holds to this day, but it received plenty of critical acclaim as well. The movie was well-represented at the 1974 Academy Awards, nabbing ten nominations. Burstyn got a Best Actress nod and the film was even nominated for Best Picture, making it the first horror film to be up for that award. It ended up taking home two of the trophies — one for Best Sound and another for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (which would be categorized as Best Adapted Screenplay nowadays).

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Ellen Burstyn in The Exorcist (1973)

While it doesn’t seem likely that this sequel can be quite the Oscar darling of the original, having talent like Ann Down on board certainly won’t hurt. And you never know, it could always be a surprise hit like the original was. There are plenty of horror auteurs like Robert Eggers and Ari Aster who get Oscar buzz for their films. Maybe the Exorcist sequel can get some of that acclaim.

Whether or not the Excorcist sequel can live up to the original, you can see Ann Dowd, Leslio Odom Jr, and Ellen Burstyn face off with demons (perhaps Pazuzu?) when the film is released in October of 2023. Depending on how well the movie does, we’ll likely be seeing more from the franchise since Universal and Peacock paid a hefty fee for the rights.