The Exorcist: Believer ending explained: are both girls saved in the end?

 Lidya Jewett and Olivia Marcum in The Exorcist: Believer.
Lidya Jewett and Olivia Marcum in The Exorcist: Believer.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Fifty years after the original 1973 William Friedkin film horrified the world with its spine-chilling depiction of the demonic possession of a young girl, a direct sequel has arrived to haunt your nightmares. (Yes, there have been other movies in The Exorcist Cinematic Universe, but those don’t apply here.)

The Exorcist: Believer changes up a few aspects of the original, however: where in the former it was a single mother, Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), on a harrowing journey to rescue her daughter Regan (an iconic Linda Blair) from the devil, here’s it’s a widower, Victor Fielding (Glass Onion’s Leslie Odom Jr.), trying to save the soul of his child, Angela (Lidya Jewett). But Angela’s not the only one in trouble — her friend Katherine (Olivia Marcum) has also fallen under the force of the malevolent spirit, after the two schoolgirls went missing for three days while playing with a Ouija board in the woods, in an attempt to connect to Angela’s deceased mother.

The girls return, in good health but seemingly suffering from amnesia, when far more sinister symptoms begin cropping up — namely, their speaking in tongues, destroying sacramental hosts, and ripping their own fingernails off. You know, good old-fashioned devil stuff. Victor and Katherine’s parents (played by Jennifer Nettles and Norbert Leo Butz) enlist the spiritual help of several people from the community, including Victor’s nurse neighbor Ann (The Handmaid's Tale’s Ann Dowd), who is a former novitiate nun; Dr. Beehibe (Okwui Okpokwasili), a ritualistic healer; and Chris MacNeil herself (Burstyn), who was sought out by a desperate Victor after he read the book about her own demonic experience with Regan. Chris wants to assist Angela and Katherine as penance for where she failed her own daughter, from whom she is now estranged.

But can this faith-based motley crew expel the evil spirit and save the two innocent girls? Here’s what went down in The Exorcist: Believer ending. (Yes, that does mean that spoilers are very much ahead!)

The Exorcist: Believer ending explained: Do Angela and Katherine survive?

The parents, Ann and Dr. Beehibe, as well as a Pentecostal preacher and Baptist pastor, gather to host an exorcism for Angela and Katherine, who are tied to chairs in the middle of a chalk circle. Chris cannot join them, as she is in hospital following a terrifying meeting with Katherine, during which the possessed girl stabbed her in the eyes with a crucifix. Father Maddox (E.J. Bonilla), the young priest that they were hoping would lead the ritual, initially said he could not participate, as the diocese wouldn’t give him approval and suggested the girls undergo psychiatric treatment instead. However, he has a change of heart and does come to help, a decision that proves to be fatal, as the girls use their demonic powers to snap the priest’s neck.

The group continues their prayers and incantations in the hope of expelling the powerful spirit, including Victor, even though he is staunchly unreligious. However, the possessed Angela begins to taunt her father. At the beginning of the film, we see flashbacks to Angela’s heavily pregnant mother, who was trapped beneath debris during an earthquake while in Haiti. Victor was faced with the terrible decision of having to choose between saving his wife’s life or his unborn child’s at the hospital. According to Angela, he actually chose to save his wife, though she ended up passing away anyway due to the severity of her injuries.

“Now you have to make another choice: one girl lives, one girl dies,” Angela tells him. It’s a heartbreakingly impossible decision and all of the parents struggle as the girls chant over and over: “Choose me.” However, distraught, Katherine’s father eventually yells out that he chooses his daughter to be saved.

Angela begins ascending in the middle of the room and projectile vomits a black substance all over the ceiling before she crashes to the floor. For a moment, it seems like Katherine has been released from the devil’s influence and is back to her normal self, until she crashes, too — we then see her back in the woods where the girls initially went missing. Trapped in a dank, decrepit waterway, she screams out before the demon drags her beneath the surface, seemingly to Hell. It’s then that the group realizes the demon was playing a cruel trick: the choice wasn’t for who would be saved, the choice was for who would be killed.

Angela comes to after seeing images of her mother in her memory and is reunited with her father. Ambulances and law enforcement come to the house to remove the bodies of Father Maddox and Katherine. We then flash-forward to seeing the characters later, including Katherine’s parents, who are getting through the grief of their daughter’s loss together, and Angela, healthy and healed back at school, though sadly gazing at the empty desk where Katherine used to sit.

Though The Exorcist: Believer does end on a slightly hopeful note: still in the hospital healing with bandages over her eyes, Chris receives a surprise visitor: her daughter Regan (Blair, reprising her famous character), who ultimately forgives and embraces her mother all these years later. Does this mean that the newly reunited mother and daughter will be back for The Exorcist: Deceiver, set for 2025? Only time will tell!