A priest is tasked with investigating the mysterious death of Father Merrin, and he is led to Regan MacNeil, who still has evil lurking inside her.
Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
Directed by John Boorman
Written by William Goodhart
Starring Linda Blair, Richard Burton, Louise Fletcher,
Max von Sydow, James Earl Jones, Kitty Winn, Paul Henreid
Sequel to 1973's The Exorcist
In this film's defense, The Exorcist is a tough act to follow. Then again, The Exorcist III didn't seem to have that problem. Exorcist II's biggest issue is that it has no idea what story it wants to tell. Does it want to tell Regan's aftermath story? Does it want to tell a Vatican investigation story? Does it want to tell a Father Merrin prequel story? Who knows? What we end up getting is a mix-match of various sequel ideas that never mesh, and the end result is more boring and confusing than anything else.
Our hero is Father Lamont (Burton), who is tasked by the Vatican to investigate Father Merrin's (von Sydow) death at the hands of a supposed exorcism. He goes to talk to Regan MacNeil (Blair), who is now 16-years-old and remembers nothing about the possession. Her doctor, Gene Tuskin (Fletcher), uses a hypnosis, dream connecting machine of her own invention to connect Regan and Lamont telepathically, which causes her memories to flood back. This also reawakens the demon Pazuzu, whose origins we kind of get. There's a lot of potential here, but all of it is wasted thanks to shoddy editing, a weak script, and so many phoned-in performances. Everyone was here for a paycheck.
The whole ending makes zero sense, with Lamont battling an evil projection of Pazuzu inside the house from the first film. But also Regan has healing powers and can control locusts? And James Earl Jones sort of helps but maybe he doesn't? It's a confusing mess that is barely held together. The Exorcist was never the kind of horror film to warrant a franchise. It's a standalone nightmare that loses punch knowing there's two sequels and two prequels. Maybe if this had been watchable, I'd think differently, but that's a moot point because the film is a hot mess.