29 Movies Like The Exorcist: Believer (2023) (Page 2)

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Rewind picks up rather quickly with a marriage montage, invoking the infamous first 10 minutes of Up. But this is no classic Pixar tearjerker. This is a good old-fashioned Pinoy telenovela romance, featuring a life-changing car accident, a saint-like child, and an emotionally dead relationship. It explores a premise anyone can instantly connect with, which challenges the comforting notion that a quick burst of reparations makes up for a lifetime of errors. This touching story leaves little room for downtime, but every minute coasts on cheesy writing and a religious slant to deliver a didactic message straight out of a mildly entertaining homily.

Genre: Drama, Romance, Science Fiction

Actor: Ariel Ureta, Chamyto Aguedan, Coney Reyes, Dingdong Dantes, Ina Feleo, JC Alcantara, Jordan Lim, Joross Gamboa, Lito Pimentel, Marian Rivera, Mary Joy Apostol, Neil Coleta, Pamu Pamorada, Pepe Herrera, Sue Ramirez

Director: Mae Cruz-Alviar

You could take away a lot of parts in Reptile, and it would still make sense. It’s the kind of film that leans on sound and style to justify overlong takes and teeth-grittingly predictable scenes. But all is forgiven when del Toro, who also co-writes and co-produces the film, appears on screen. He has a simmering, captivating presence that demands you keep your eyes on him even when little, if anything at all, happens. Silverstone, Eric Bogosian, and Ato Essandoh are likewise enthralling, but Justin Timberlake unfortunately does not hold the same staying power. The film is at its weakest when it tries to convince us that he plays a complex, layered man when, in fact, Timberlake relays nothing but surface-level thrills. But Reptile is at its strongest when it gives us del Toro in all his forceful glory. 

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Africa Miranda, Alicia Silverstone, Allison Smith, Amy Parrish, Ato Essandoh, Benicio Del Toro, Catherine Dyer, Dani Deetté, Deena Beasley, Domenick Lombardozzi, Elena Varela, Eric Bogosian, Frances Fisher, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Gregory Albrecht, James Devoti, Jesse C. Boyd, Jp Lambert, Justin Timberlake, Karl Glusman, Kurt Yue, Lee Perkins, Matilda Lutz, Matt Medrano, Matthew Cornwell, Michael Beasley, Michael Pitt, Michael Rene Walton, Mike Pniewski, Monique Yvette Grant, Owen Teague, Sky Ferreira, Thad Luckinbill, Tiffany Fallon, Victor Rasuk

Director: Grant Singer

Rating: R

With a new, fast-paced media landscape, Call Me Chihiro might feel too slow for people new to the story. Composed of serene, slice-of-life moments, the film starts off feeling plotless, as the titular protagonist builds random interactions with the townspeople. She makes friends with people who seemingly don’t have much in common with her. Despite this, each interaction feels meaningful and genuine, thanks to the subtle acting of Kasumi Arimura. And as these scenes build up, and Chihiro’s friends begin to become friends with each other, these day-to-day moments form a character study of a lonely woman whose kindness and appreciation for life make her feel so admirable. For those wistful Sunday nights, Call Me Chihiro might be a great watch, but only if you’re in that certain mood.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Fusako Urabe, Hana Toyoshima, Itsuki Nagasawa, Jun Fubuki, Kasumi Arimura, Keiichi Suzuki, Lily Franky, Mitsuru Hirata, Miwako Ichikawa, Ryuya Wakaba, Shigeo Ôsako, Tetta Shimada, Toshie Negishi, Van, Wakaba Ryuuya, Yoichiro Saito, Yui Sakuma

Director: Rikiya Imaizumi

Rating: R, TV-14

Pushing an already extreme activity even further beyond its limits, Ueli Steck and Dani Arnold have became the world champions of speed climbing—a variation of the sport that places much greater importance on direct competition over communing with nature. It's fascinating to hear what drives Steck and Arnold to courting death like this, and to see how their vastly different backgrounds and processes have still made them equals in the field. The documentary eventually runs out of ideas, however, as it clumsily shifts tones leading into its last third, and concludes abruptly without much synthesis of everything that had come before. It's still a worthwhile adventure whether or not one is into climbing; it's just disappointing that this story of such a unique rivalry settles into a more generic rhythm by the end.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Documentary

Actor: Dani Arnold, Ueli Steck

Director: Götz Werner, Nicholas de Taranto

Rating: PG-13

As a growing number of horror movies are, Influencer is inspired by the fact that we’re increasingly spending our lives in the digital, rather than physical, world. Kurtis David Harder’s film makes some effort to highlight the tension between those two realms: its plot hinges on the idea that vapidly sunny influencer-speak often masks gloomier realities, and suggests that, if your existence is mainly validated through a screen, would anyone really know if something truly dark happened to you?

It’s an interesting premise, to be sure, but Influencer’s critique settles there. Instead of striving for social thriller status by exploring the paradox of social media with any real rigor, the rather broad writing here means it lands as a run-of-the-mill scary movie, one that verges on being a forgettable experience once the credits have rolled. One element saves it from that fate, though: Cassandra Naud, who gives an unnerving performance that brings intriguing psychological depths to the role of CW, the film’s villain. She can only do so much to elevate a script that is shallowly interested in her character, though, meaning Influencer can’t quite transcend its status as a middling social media horror.

Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Cassandra Naud, Emily Tennant, Justin Sams, Paul Spurrier, Rory J. Saper, Sara Canning

Director: Kurtis David Harder

In the saturated sphere of sci-fi and superhero movies, Gray Matter just doesn’t cut it. The film, which was produced as part of the filmmaking workshop/reality show Project Greenlight, doesn’t add anything new, much less its own spin, to a story we’ve heard countless times: that of a young kid learning to harness her supernatural powers for the first time. If you’ve seen Carrie, Firestarter, or more recently Stranger Things, then you’ll be able to predict how most of Gray Matter turns out. It is watchable, sure, enjoyable even in the first few minutes where it promises a world chockful of lore, but it never fulfills that promise. To be fair, the performances are solid and the technicals maximize what limited resources the movie has (it looks more decent than you’d expect a small-budgeted sci-fi production to be), but the pros don’t outweigh the cons in this case. It’s simply too empty and generic to be elevated by anything else. 

Genre: Science Fiction

Actor: Andrew Liner, Garret Dillahunt, Jessica Frances Dukes, Mia Isaac

Director: Meko Winbush

Rating: PG-13

The filmmakers behind this direct sequel to the Indigenous action thriller Sayen clearly learned from the mistakes of that first film: all the emotion that was missing then finds a new home here, as the titular protagonist finally gets to grieve what she's lost, in a way that's touchingly close to her cultural beliefs. Desert Road also ups the action considerably, this time borrowing liberally from desert-set films like Mad Max—the sun-drenched expanses of sand are somehow much more beautiful than the forests of the first movie. And Rallen Montenegro continues to refine this character's emotional depth.

Still, partially as a result of the fact that the first installment gave this sequel little to work with, Desert Road can't help but feel more ordinary and more distant from real-world struggles touched upon previously. The actual thrills in this thriller plot aren't particularly intriguing, as several subplots mash together without as much effect on the main plot as intended. At the end of the day, this still seems like it's been made with the action movie template in mind first, rather than having the story and characters lead the style of the storytelling.

Genre: Action, Thriller

Actor: Alfredo Castro, Álvaro Espinoza, Camilo Arancibia, Claudio Riveros, Claudio Troncoso, Enrique Arce, Eyal Meyer, Felipe Contreras, Francisca Gavilán, Jorge López, Katalina Sanchez, Mario Bustos, Nicolás de Terán, Rallén Montenegro, Roberto García Ruiz, Teresa Ramos, Víctor Varela

Director: Alexander Witt

It's a pretty nifty idea to expand on just one section of Bram Stoker's Dracula that's essentially just a footnote but implies something much more violent and horrific. And to its credit, The Last Voyage of the Demeter takes this sliver of the source material very seriously—with strong, period-specific production design and a cast that brings humanity and morality to their otherwise two-dimensional characters. Unfortunately, the film just doesn't know what to do with itself. As a creature feature, the thrills are uninspired and difficult to see properly on screen; as a supposedly character-driven horror movie, it only ever gestures toward deeper ideas but fails to give the tragic nature of its story any weight. And Dracula himself has none of the terror or the sophistication that has made him such an enduring figure throughout all of fiction. He's just a thing with wings.

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

Actor: Adam Shaw, Aisling Franciosi, Chris Walley, Christopher York, Corey Hawkins, David Dastmalchian, Graham Turner, Javier Botet, Jon Jon Briones, Liam Cunningham, Malcolm Galea, Martin Furulund, Nicolo Pasetti, Nikolai Nikolaeff, Noureddine Farihi, Sally Reeve, Stefan Kapičić, Vladimir Cabak, Woody Norman

Director: André Øvredal

, 2023

For its first half-hour or so, Saw X really doesn't feel like an entry in the long-running horror series commonly described by detractors as "torture porn." It's quiet and steadily paced and does a better job than many horror sequels and reboots of recent years in making its primary antagonist a sympathetic human being. The way the character of John Kramer (AKA Jigsaw) has been written here—elevated by Tobin Bell's performance—gives even the film's later, more extreme segments a hint of soulfulness, since we're made to feel exactly what drives his self-appointed mission to exact justice on other terrible people.

But this new, dramatic spin on Saw doesn't last for very long, and this tenth film eventually slides back into its trademark cheesy elements that won't make any new converts to the series. Overly aggressive editing and music, hammy performances from the supporting cast, and death traps that grow increasingly unimaginative all dull the greater impact that Saw X could have had. The batch of victims we get this time around are somewhat compelling given their connections they have to each other and to Kramer himself, but they're still ultimately more of the same—just cannon fodder waiting for execution.

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Actor: Costas Mandylor, Craig Hurley, Donagh Gordon, Jorge Briseño, Joshua Okamoto, Katie Barberi, Kerry Ardra, Lucía Gómez-Robledo, Michael Beach, Natasha Goss, Octavio Hinojosa Martínez, Paulette Hernández, Renata Vaca, Shawnee Smith, Steven Brand, Synnøve Macody Lund, Tobin Bell

Director: Kevin Greutert

Rating: R

Surrounded has the bones of a revenge-style Western. It turns the table on the white cowboy hero and gives us (on paper, at least) complex leads in Mo and Tommy. Mo is a young Black woman whose experience as a Buffalo Solider lends her not only the skills of an expert gunslinger but also the anger and motivation to push through any obstacle, while Tommy is the enigmatic thief who Mo reluctantly relies on in her quest for freedom. With all this pent-up tension, the film should work, and it does occasionally thanks to Wright and Bell’s deft performances (Bell is especially exceptional), the stunning mountainous terrains, and the worthy attempts at race and class commentary. But for the most part, the film's ambitions fall flat. The monologues are overlong and too evocative of modern speech to be historically believable. The action scenes, while exciting, only sputter here and there and never gain the momentum the film needs to genuinely thrill. And the thin backstories of Mo and Tommy raise more questions than answers. More often than not, Surrounded looks like a couple of good scenes strewn together on a lousy string; the foundations are off but there’s some enjoyment to be found.

Genre: Action, Drama, Western

Actor: Austin Rising, Brett Gelman, David Manzanares, Jamie Bell, Jeffrey Donovan, Keith Jardine, Kevin Wiggins, Letitia Wright, Luce Rains, Lyle Sandoval, Mark Dalton, Michael Kenneth Williams, Nathaniel Augustson, Peter Diseth, Tatanka Means

Director: Anthony Mandler

Rating: R

Though it borrows from some of the oldest genre tropes—stoic but kind-hearted hero finding a heart in a community that needs his help—Jigen Daisuke still manages to carve out a visual identity that has one foot rooted in its Lupin III manga origins, and another in noir fiction. The world of the film is beautifully lit and feels bustling with activity, as are the frenetic action scenes that turn gleefully silly with the sheer amount of gunfire being sprayed everywhere. That said, the movie can't handle the number of plates it tries to spin, as side characters fail to develop more meaningfully and its more exciting parts are diluted by long stretches of drama that aren't as engaging as the film thinks they are. This feels like a sampler for the kinds of stories the title character could be involved in in the future, but little else.

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Akihiko Sai, Eugene Nomura, Honami Sato, Kazuki Namioka, Kotoka Maki, Masatoshi Nagase, Mitsuko Kusabue, Rina Sakuragi, Takashi Sasano, Tetsuji Tamayama, Toru Baba, Yasukaze Motomiya, Yoji Tanaka, Yôko Maki, Yuuki Tsujimoto

Director: Hajime Hashimoto

Rating: PG-13

Known best for his horror films, writer-director Christopher Smith’s latest stint in the genre has dropped on Hulu. Consecration is one of many supernatural horror films set in convents and churches, as the Catholic Church’s notorious silence is easy fodder for potential fears. There’s some of that here, as Grace, portrayed by the excellent Jena Malone, tries to uncover the truth, not just for her brother’s murder but for her own past. However, there’s no secrecy in this murder mystery with the dialogue holding no subtlety at all. Even as the cast makes the most of it, Consecration drags down any possible tension or intrigue with its painfully straightforward dialogue and incoherent timeline shifts.

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Actor: Alexandra Lewis, Angela White, Charlotte Palmer, Danny Huston, David Boyle, Eilidh Fisher, Emma Hixson, Ian Pirie, Janet Suzman, Jena Malone, Jolade Obasola, Kit Rakusen, Marilyn O'Brien, Steffan Cennydd, Thoren Ferguson, Will Keen

Director: Christopher Smith

Rating: R

, 2023

Sayen is the kind of film that ultimately feels like it was written by a focus group: ample representation for a worthy cause funneled into the sort of escapism that should theoretically hit the widest demographic possible. But even with its solid production values and a determined performance by Rallen Montenegro, the film lacks the emotional bite that a less corporate-driven project likely would've had. It's not that Sayen comes off insincere about the plight of Indigenous peoples in Chile; it's that its desire to appear sincere stops most of its good ideas halfway. The action isn't particularly thrilling, the story doesn't develop so much as it stretches itself thin, and its supposed representation begins and ends with some terribly obvious—borderline tokenistic—scenes and character types.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller

Actor: Alejandro Trejo, Álvaro Espinoza, Aron Piper, David Gaete, Eduardo Paxeco, Enrique Arce, Loreto Aravena, Rallén Montenegro, Ramón González, Roberto García Ruiz, Serge Santana, Teresa Ramos

Director: Alexander Witt

While at first it seems like this third installment in Antoine Fuqua's series of Denzel Washington star vehicles is setting itself up to be a more serious and thoughtful story of personal absolution, it gradually becomes clear that The Equalizer 3 has no story to tell. Very, very little happens in this movie, and all the time we spend with Washington (still somehow compelling, even when he's on autopilot) drinking tea and chatting with locals doesn't lead to any character relationships worth caring for. Fuqua and screenwriter Richard Wenk seem to want to create a sense of familiarity with this Italian town, through which we should ideally see the things Robert McCall grows to value in his violent life. But even the prettiest landscapes (shot by Robert Richardson) can't make up for how empty and misjudged the writing is.

There are approximately two short action scenes in The Equalizer 3, neither of which has the clockwork precision of the fights in the first film, or the environmental inventiveness of the climax of the second film. And while an action movie can aspire to something beyond its action, the fact that this installment has abandoned it completely is a genuinely perplexing choice.

Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller

Actor: Adolfo Margiotta, Agostino Chiummariello, Andrea Dodero, Andrea Scarduzio, Arcangelo Iannace, Beatrice Aiello, Bruno Bilotta, Dakota Fanning, Daniele Ornatelli, Daniele Perrone, Danilo Capuzi, David Denman, Dea Lanzaro, Denzel Washington, Diego Riace, Eugenio Mastrandrea, Gaia Scodellaro, Gianluigi Scilla, Giovanni Scotti, Lucia Zotti, Luigi Catani, Marco Giuliani, Mariarosaria Mingione, Marta Zoffoli, Mauro Cremonini, Melissa Leo, Niccolò Senni, Remo Girone, Salvatore Ruocco, Simona Distefano, Sonia Ammar, Valerio Da Silva, Zakaria Hamza

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Rating: R