Women Power in Cinema: A Deeper Look at “The Exorcist: Believer” 2023
The world of cinema has evolved significantly over the years, and with it, the portrayal of women on the big screen. Gone are the days when women were confined to passive, one-dimensional roles in film. “The Exorcist: Believer” (2023), the latest installment in the iconic “Exorcist” franchise, serves as a testament to the transformation of women’s roles in cinema. This essay explores the theme of women’s empowerment in the movie and how it contributes to reshaping traditional gender dynamics in the horror genre.
Breaking Free from Stereotypes
One of the most notable aspects of “The Exorcist: Believer” is its refusal to adhere to the traditional stereotypes often associated with female characters in horror films. In the past, women were frequently portrayed as helpless victims, damsels in distress, or mere props to advance the male protagonist’s storyline. However, this film takes a bold step in the opposite direction.
Angela, portrayed brilliantly by Olivia Marcum, is at the forefront of the narrative. A young girl grappling with the loss of her mother, Angela embarks on a quest of self-discovery and empowerment. Her courage and determination drive the story, breaking free from the conventional horror film trope of women as passive observers.
Strength and Resilience
Katherine, Angela’s best friend, portrayed by Lidya Jewett, adds depth and complexity to the narrative. Katherine is not merely a supporting character; she is a source of strength and resilience. Her character is instrumental in confronting the supernatural forces at play, showcasing the kind of resilience rarely seen in horror films.
Ann, the compassionate nurse neighbor played by Ann Dowd, is another example of the film’s commitment to portraying women as powerful figures. Ann’s resourcefulness and unwavering dedication to helping Angela and her father play a crucial role in unraveling the plot’s mysteries.
Revisiting Iconic Characters
“The Exorcist: Believer” also revisits the iconic characters of Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) and Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) from the original “Exorcist.” Both characters continue to symbolize strength and resilience, but their roles have evolved significantly. Chris, now a renowned expert on exorcisms, showcases her transformation from a distressed mother to a formidable figure in the world of supernatural research.
Regan’s journey from being a possessed child to a survivor and a symbol of resilience is a testament to the film’s theme of female empowerment. The reunion between Chris and Regan in the film serves as a powerful moment of forgiveness and reconciliation, highlighting the strength of their bond.
A Positive Shift in the Horror Genre
In an industry often criticized for its portrayal of women, “The Exorcist: Believer” represents a positive shift in the horror genre. The film empowers its female characters, allowing them to take center stage, shape the narrative, and make significant contributions to the story’s overall impact.
“The Exorcist: Believer” challenges the age-old stereotypes of women in horror films and presents a refreshing take on female empowerment. Through well-written characters and compelling performances, the movie demonstrates that women can be strong, resilient, and central to the horror genre’s storytelling. As cinema continues to evolve, it is crucial to celebrate and encourage such positive representations of women’s power on screen, ultimately reshaping the landscape of film for the better.
Sukanya Basu Mallik‘s works have been featured in Reader’s Digest, Times of India, SahityaAkademi, Writer’s Life, UK, AIPF Int. Anthology ( Diverse City Youth Contest, Austin, US), etc. Bestowed with Best Manuscript Awards for fiction & non-fiction categories (Mumbai Litofest, 2018), she has also been recognized for her short story ‘Healing of Wounds’ at NCLF, led by Ruskin Bond. She’s currently pursuing a PhD at IIT Madras in organizational behavior, her subject being using art-based therapies for enhancing teaching-learning effectiveness using immersive technologies. You can also check her previous reviews published here: