Famed horror production company Blumhouse spent around $400 million to acquire The Exorcist license, one of the most coveted in horror cinema history because of its legacy. Dishing out that amount of money signaled a serious confidence in the investment, that it’d be repaid in kind at the box office. Blumhouse put its faith in David Gordon Green, the director behind the controversial Halloween reboot, to conjure up a new trilogy for the demonic possession franchise. In comes The Exorcist: Believer, one of the worst movies bearing the Exorcist name to ever have gotten a theatrical release. On a $30 million budget, it raked in a disappointing $137 million in ticket sales. The trilogy was immediately put on hiatus.

In an interview with The Direct, company head Jason Blum gave an update on the future of the license. Well, more of a non-update. He stated:

“We are definitely going to make another Exorcist movie, but I wanted more time to figure out what it would be. I have no idea what it’s going to be yet.”

This all but confirms that the next movie won’t be Deceiver, the second in the planned trilogy. It was removed from the company’s release calendar to develop it into something different. Gordon Green left the project shortly after the release of Believer, a decision that came on the heels of an overwhelmingly negative response from critics and poor performance. It’s safe to say that should Deceiver make a return it won’t be as a continuation of the first installment of the reboot, nor will it be accompanied by the characters that were written for it.

Lamashtu, the demon that possesses the girls. Was not used in the final cut. Only has a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance during the final exorcism sequence.

People met the news of Gordon Green as director of the new trilogy people with skepticism. A lot of head scratching ensued. Sure, the first part of the new Halloween reboot had been a resounding success, both critically and financially, but the other two instalments lost a lot of goodwill from its fanbase. A forced approach to extending the story coupled with baffling decisions in terms of character progression, and other odd choices made to the core myth behind the franchise (namely the pivot to a “new” Michael Myers in part 3) left audiences deflated. And yet, Gordon Green was given the keys to the Exorcist kingdom.

So, what should we look forward to from Blumhouse after it let one of the biggest franchises in horror land with such a nasty thud? Where do they go from here? The answer is quite simple: try again. They have no choice after the amount they spent here. That said, quality control is key. They can’t afford another blunder the likes of Believer.

Any attempts at course-correction, at this point, would do well to look to The Exorcist TV series Fox put out back 2016. Unlike Believer, this continuation of the original story stayed true to the religious themes of the original movie. It built upon the demonic element to create a wider conspiracy focused on the Catholic church all while finding a nice balance between worldbuilding and possession horror. In other words, it didn’t betray what already worked. It used the foundation to grow into something worthy of the name.

For this to work in what could still be ultimately titled Deceiver, I’d argue there’s a higher chance of success if the focus is on a standalone entry. Don’t think about a trilogy or a duology or any kind of numeric grouping. Focus on telling a story that frightens on its own right, invites its own demons, and earns the audience’s desire for more. Try to give the William Friedkin classic a run for its money. Only after achieving that should there be any talk of sequels.

It’s a long road to recoup the $400 million investment for Blumhouse. Thankfully, I believe there’s still a yearning for that next great Exorcist movie. Possession movies and religious horror tend to generate buzz as they chase that same degree of terror that Friedkin’s Exorcist managed to reach. Russell Crowe’s The Pope’s Exorcist, The Nun 2, and When Evil Lurks scratched that itch and people responded. Blumhouse can still turn it around. They just have to find a way to make something that can hold its own beside what many consider to be the scariest movie of all time. No biggie.