10 Directors Who Should Take Over ‘The Exorcist: Deceiver’

Some horror properties naturally lend themselves to incessant sequels, while others seem to will themselves into existence through sheer will, as if they’re the result of a demonic possession. William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, while over 50 years old, is still considered to be one of the scariest movies of all-time. Various Exorcist sequels and even a two-season television series (which is great, by the way) have materialized over time. However, none of these projects generated the same level of skepticism that accompanied Blumhouse’s announcement that they’d be producing not just a legacy sequel to Friedkin’s original film, but an entire trilogy, directed by David Gordon Green. Green had just pulled off a similar spectacle with his Halloween legacy sequel trilogy, yet Michael Myers’ slasher antics are much more conducive to this formula than repeated returns to The Exorcist’s MacNeils.

2023’s The Exorcist: Believer chronicles two girls who disappear in the woods and return, days later, with no memories of their absence. They begin to exhibit strange, demonic behavior and the search for answers eventually leads these characters to Ellen Burstyn’s Chris MacNeil, who is still coming to terms with the tragedies that befell her family five decades earlier in the original film. Believer is a mixed bag that reflects some of the biggest and laziest issues with the modern trend of legacy sequels. Many horror fans weren’t surprised when it was announced that Green would no longer be directing Believer’s sequel, The Exorcist: Deceiver, which has also been removed from its scheduled 2025 release date

Believer’s poor performance has some hopeful that the rest of this planned trilogy will simply be abandoned. However, NBCUniversal spent $400 million on the rights to The Exorcist intellectual property and so abandoning ship is still going to cost them a tremendous amount of money. Interest in The Exorcist: Deceiver may currently be tanked, but this is also a promising opportunity for Blumhouse to bring in new talent and salvage what’s left of this incomplete trilogy. There are some excellent horror directors who wouldn’t just be satisfying replacements for Green, but genuine improvements who have the potential to take The Exorcist to bold, brave places.

Mike Flanagan

Ouija Origin Of Evil

There are a lot of accomplished modern horror directors, but few have so consistently knocked it out of the park – both in film and television – as Mike Flanagan. Oculus, Hush, The Haunting of Hill House, Midnight Mass, and The Fall of the House of Usher are all horror masterpieces that have continued to reflect Flanagan’s evolving sensibilities and talents as a filmmaker. He’s also one of the few directors who crushes it when it comes to Stephen King adaptations, such as Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep. Flanagan is a storyteller who truly thrives when it comes to adaptations and series like The Midnight Club, his The Haunting anthology series, and The Fall of the House of Usher all expertly remix and reinvent their source material in ways that don’t just respect it, but actively improve upon it in some cases. Flanagan taking on The Exorcist: Deceiver seems like he would scour William Peter Blatty’s novels for inspiration and even find ways to thread the needle with Blatty’s pseudo-sequel, The Ninth Configuration.

This all makes Flanagan a suitable selection for Deceiver. However, he’s also a director who’s deeply fascinated with Catholic guilt, grief, and dark spirits who possess the frail and lonely. He’s not just a director who has a strong point of view, but it’s one that explicitly aligns with The Exorcist’s themes and messages, which makes him the ideal fit for such a project. Flanagan managed to make a kick-ass sequel to the maligned Ouija, so there’s already a strong precedent for his ability to help The Exorcist: Deceiver bounce back from Believer‘s diminishing returns.

Scott Derrickson

The Exorcism Of Emily Rose

Scott Derrickson is another exciting voice in modern horror who’s often at his best when he gets to push limits, like he does in Sinister and The Black Phone. Derrickson has experience in horror’s exorcism subgenre with The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which is a unique paranormal story of belief and culpability that’s half paranormal spectacle and half courtroom drama. Deliver Us From Evil, while less successful, is another example of Derrickson’s unflinching approach to demonic possession that depicts his original approach to the material. Even Derrickson’s debut feature film, Hellraiser: Inferno, brings something rewarding to the table and it rises above its constraints to become the most interesting of the many direct-to-video Hellraiser sequels.

Derrickson is at work on a Black Phone sequel at the moment, but he’d also be a rewarding choice to continue Blumhouse’s Exorcist. Derrickson knows how to conjure terrifying visuals and he could even incorporate a gritty Super 8 quality to the horror that further blurs the line between reality and illusion. Derrickson has already taken a few stabs at franchise remakes, like with 2008’s The Day the Earth Stood Still, and there are supposedly plans for an update to Labyrinth, too. Exorcist wouldn’t be a huge leap for Derrickson, especially with exorcism and spiritual material making up much of his existing filmography.

Sam Raimi

The Evil Dead Ash Possession

Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy has earned him a permanent place in the horror hall of fame and even though he’s left just as big of a mark on cinema’s superhero genre with his three Spider-Man films and a Doctor Strange sequel, the director’s heart will always be in horror. Raimi’s not the first name that comes to mind as a director to The Exorcist. That being said, his Evil Dead movies are full of frightening possessions and demonic entities and Drag Me to Hell also explores many of the same themes. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has helped put Raimi back on the map after a lengthy hiatus. 

One of the most interesting things that Raimi could do to take advantage of his current cache would be to hop onto The Exorcist: Deceiver as the franchise’s new shepherd. The Exorcist movies are some of the bleakest horror films that are almost completely lacking in levity. Raimi’s speciality is to mix the macabre with slapstick surrealism, but he’s able to tone down these sensibilities for the right project. Raimi is another big name who would, if nothing else, create curiosity over an Exorcist sequel that most people have already written off.

David Bruckner

The Ritual Flaying

David Bruckner has really hit the ground running and he’s responsible for some of the most powerful and contemplative horror films to come out of the past decade, particularly The Ritual and The Night House. Bruckner’s movies are steeped in trauma while his characters get pushed to the brink and they don’t always return. He’s a director who also prioritizes character over cheap scares, which is exactly what The Exorcist: Deceiver needs to right Believer’s wrongs. The intricate and reality-bending scares of The Night House would also neatly fit into an Exorcist movie’s climax.

Bruckner has certain themes that he continually returns to in his feature films, but he’s also proven his versatility through successful entries in anthology fare like Southbound, the V/H/S franchise, and Shudder’s Creepshow series. If Bruckner can knock it out of the park with a horror franchise that’s as polarizing as Hellraiser then there’s no reason why he couldn’t do just as strong work with The Exorcist. These franchises are quite different on their surfaces, but Bruckner is all about digging deep and getting raw. Hellraiser and The Exorcist both involve meditations on sin, guilt, pain, and purgatory.

Ti West

Ti West The Sacrament Victim

Ti West has put in the work for decades, but is in the middle of a Renaissance thanks to his modern horror pastiche trilogy, X, Pearl, and the upcoming MaXXXine. West’s filmography continually proves that he’s able to deliver pristine period pieces that feel like lost films. The House of the Devil and X tap into ‘70s and ‘80s aesthetics, while Pearl gleefully indulges in the Technicolor era. These skills are helpful in an Exorcist movie, but West’s found-footage descent into cult chaos, The Sacrament, might be the tonally closest to what Deceiver needs to succeed. The Sacrament cultivates an intimate, claustrophobic atmosphere that would perfectly serve the pivotal exorcism sequences in Deceiver. 

West dips his toe in ghost stories and the paranormal with The Innkeepers. However, he’s also directed an episode of The Exorcist TV shows’s second season, “Unclean.” He’s already technically in The Exorcist family and has at least some level of familiarity with the series’ tone and atmosphere. West is a horror director who’s always pushing himself to grow and someone who unabashedly loves the genre. He’d undoubtedly turn The Exorcist: Deceiver into appointment viewing.

Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

Something In The Dirt Fire

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have recently joined the Marvel machine after directing some of Moon Knight’s first season and the bulk of Loki’s second season. That being said, it still feels like this writing and directing duo’s hearts are in horror and taking over Exorcist: Deceiver would be a sublime return to the genre for the surrealist storytellers. Oddly enough many of the visual tricks and sci-fi flourishes that were present in Loki wouldn’t exactly feel out of place during a heightened exorcism sequence where reality begins to break in on itself. Benson and Moorhead are responsible for trippy sci-fi horror movies like Spring, The Endless, and Something in the Dirt. A running theme through their films is a deep questioning of reality as individuals verge on mental collapse. 

The two have never told a story quite like The Exorcist before, but their small-scale, psychological approach to the genre is exactly what the series needs to get back in touch with its roots. Many of Benson and Moorhead’s movies are also two-hander stories where a pair of diametrically opposed characters are forced to reckon and reconcile with their conflicting beliefs. This is what The Exorcist, at its core, is really all about. Hell, even make the exorcism a byproduct of the red flower and bring the movie into Benson and Moorhead’s “Shitty Carl Cinematic Universe.”

Eli Roth

The Green Inferno

The Exorcist series is usually light in gore with there instead being an emphasis on psychological dread and disturbing spiritual retribution. Eli Roth admittedly cut his teeth in heightened — almost comical — violence through his Hostel movies, which were foundational for the 2000s’ “torture porn” trend and indoctrinated him into the “Splat Pack” alongside other horror directors like Adam Green, Alexandre Aja, and Darren Lynn Bousman. However, Roth has continually expanded his scope as a director through films like Knock Knock, The Green Inferno, and his most recent slasher success, Thanksgiving (which already has a sequel on the way). He’s also tried his hand at reclaiming stagnant intellectual property, like his Death Wish remake. 

Eli Roth’s abundance of horror-centric exploratory TV shows like Eli Roth’s History of Horror, Eli Roth Presents: A Ghost Ruined My Life, My Possessed Pet, and The Legion of Exorcists all exhibit his passion for the paranormal and how he’s deeply fascinated with possession and evil spirits, even if they haven’t directly been the focus in any of his feature films. It’s no coincidence that Roth is a producer on the found-footage film The Last Exorcism as well as its sequel. Roth currently has a lot of juice due to Thanksgiving and it wouldn’t be difficult to picture him jumping onto The Exorcist: Deceiver after Thanksgiving 2 finishes production. He’s a director who knows how to get the most out of a limited budget, if need be, but his reverence for this material could help him give Deceiver the franchise energy that Blumhouse is looking for.

Kyle Edward Ball 

Skinamarink Boy

Kyle Edward Ball has quickly become one of the most interesting horror filmmakers to watch after his 2023 breakout debut feature, Skinamarink. It’s incredibly exciting to see what Ball does next and what other original stories he wants to tell, but he’d also make for a distinctly different voice to helm the Exorcist sequel. The indie-to-mainstream-tent pole trajectory isn’t uncommon and Exorcist: Deceiver could quickly earn some good will through adopting the same lo-fi approach that Ball employs in Skinamarink.

Skinamarink perfectly captures the haunted energy of being home alone in the middle of the night, which is an aesthetic that actually would work quite well with The Exorcist. The franchise’s many sequels — even the ones that work — have lacked a unique visual language. Such an approach, while controversial, could help draw in long-time Exorcist fans as well as newcomers who prefer experimental horror cinema. Ball could really knock this sequel out of the park and prove that he’s a major force to be reckoned with in modern horror cinema.

Jennifer Kent

The Babadook Mother Scream

Jennifer Kent is a director who doesn’t strictly work in horror. However, she has an uncanny flair for the uncomfortable and making her audience sit in poisonous tension that beautifully festers over time. The Nightingale is an extremely nihilistic movie that’s intentionally a challenging experience. This energy could do wonders in The Exorcist: Deceiver and generate a cursed energy that was sorely lacking in Green’s Believer. Kent also helmed, “The Murmuring,” one of the best installments from Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities that focuses on conflicted ornithologists who wind up in a cosmically haunting situation that feels like it’s ripped out of The Exorcist II: The Heretic’s final act. 

Of course, Kent’s greatest claim to fame is The Babadook, which breaks down the horrors and stresses of parenthood in a uniquely terrifying manner. The Babadook is largely an intimate two-hander tale between a mom and her son. This fear, animosity, and vulnerability would work just as well in a tale of possession and exorcism. A conflicted parent who experiences some sort of reprieve from their child’s possession would be darkly curious territory for Deceiver to interrogate.

John Carpenter

In The Mouth Of Madness Sam Neill

John Carpenter is in most horror fans’ Mount Rushmore of directors. He’d be an indispensable genre filmmaker with just a fraction of his filmography, but Carpenter dominates the ‘70s and ‘80s with exceptional horror movies like Christine, The Prince of Darkness, In The Mouth of Madness, and of course, The Thing and Halloween. It’s extremely unlikely that Carpenter would come out of “retirement” to direct The Exorcist: Deceiver, especially since he didn’t return to direct another Halloween entry from Blumhouse’s recent trilogy (although he did still work on the score). That being said, it’d be an exciting tactic that would actually generate anticipation and curiosity for the sequel rather than the disinterested apathy that currently exists for the project. 

The Exorcist finds itself in a similar situation to Halloween since it’s another coveted horror classic that Blumhouse has gone all-in on with a new trilogy. It would be a tremendous surprise — especially since Carpenter seems to be content without headlining any new movies — but a John Carpenter-directed Exorcist sequel would definitely get people’s attention. It’d also make for a much more satisfying swan song for the director than 2010’s The Ward. Carpenter’s entire filmography is full of proof that he knows how to work with a below-average budget. The Exorcist: Believer broke the standard Blumhouse model with its inflated costs and expectations. However, Carpenter could turn out a sequel at a bargain price while also putting his retro stamp on a horror classic that feels like it belongs in the past rather than turning to modern horror flourishes.

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