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‘foe’ review: saoirse ronan and paul mescal are too magnetic to be mired in all this dystopian murk.

Garth Davis directs Amazon's horror-tinged psychological sci-fi feature, also starring Aaron Pierre as a corporate rep conscripting space colonists and sowing division in a young couple's marriage.

By David Rooney

David Rooney

Chief Film Critic

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Foe with Paul Mescal and Saoirse Ronan

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For reasons never made entirely — OK, even vaguely — clear, the company has chosen scrappy sixth-generation man of the land Junior (Mescal) to be shortlisted for its mission to populate a purpose-built space station that will function as its own planet.

When the unnervingly friendly Terrance rolls up unannounced in his sleek driverless vehicle to the middle-of-nowhere family farmhouse where Junior lives with his wife, Hen (Ronan), the couple is immediately suspicious of his talk of climate migration strategy. Junior refuses to be a part of it, but Terrance tells him conscription means that’s not an option. The stranger also drops the bombshell that Hen will be staying behind during the two years her husband is away.

Some of the film’s most arresting sequences are those in which Erdély’s camera observes Junior and Hen in their workplaces. Given that their scorched-earth property is a farm in name alone, Junior earns a living at a monolithic chicken processing plant that makes factory farming look quaint, while Hen waits tables in a state of dreamy distraction at a diner, a relic of earlier times, not unlike the vintage tunes played on the couple’s stereo turntable at home.

It’s when the nature of that experiment is revealed, and OuterMore’s priorities come into question, that Davis, who co-scripted with Reid, starts losing his grip on the increasingly contrived material. It’s also when the director’s unapologetic embrace of sentimentality — which was an issue for some critics with Lion — becomes cloying and, ultimately, a bit silly.

It doesn’t require a blast of the 1962 Skeeter Davis country-pop crossover hit, “The End of the World,” to figure out that Foe is less a sci-fi investigation of corporate puppet masters or climate disaster or extraterrestrial colonization than it is a dystopian love story steeped in the now inescapable blight of artificial intelligence horror. The people with whom we share our lives often are not the same people we fell in love with, but maybe science can fix that.

Just don’t call it AI, Terrance chastens, as he — spoiler alert — explains about the biological replacement that will be provided to keep Hen company while Junior is gone. “OuterMore has a duty to those left behind,” he tells them with smiling reassurance, stressing that the “new kind of self-determining life form” is not a robot.

But, before you can say “Rick Deckard,” the script ushers in revelations about synthetic replacements operating under the tragic belief that they are human.

In one case, the truth plays out in a cold, clinical unmasking that proves traumatic for everyone involved. In the other, ambiguity reigns, to a degree that’s too muddy to be either intriguing or satisfying. Yes, you can replay the film in your mind and figure out what’s what from clues planted throughout, more or less pinpointing when the big switcheroo (or switcheroos?) took place. But as Foe lumbers on well into its second hour, it becomes obvious there’s barely enough substance here to fill a Black Mirror episode.

The film is saved to some degree by the unstinting commitment of Ronan and Mescal, sweating it out in an environment that’s stifling both physically and psychologically. But the screenplay becomes so overwrought that it smothers any emotional connection to them.

Watching Hen and Junior get it on in a dried-up lake bed, a ravaged crop field or on a rickety cot at home can hold the attention for only so long, no matter how charismatic the actors. Mescal pours himself into a big anguished monologue about the disgust Junior feels toward his fellow humans, but even if it’s plausibly the result of Terrance tightening the screws, the speech comes more from the writers than the character.

There’s plenty of atmosphere in the imagery of Erdély’s cinematography and Patrice Vermette’s bleak production design, and in the eerie sounds of a wide-ranging score by Oliver Coates, Park Jiha and Agnes Obel. But the questions Foe is pondering — about creating human consciousness, connections, even love in artificial replacements — are too predetermined to be provocative. Better to look to a more boldly imaginative consideration of the subject, like Ex Machina , for stimulating answers.

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‘Foe’ Review: Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal Star in a Muddled Dystopian Replicant Love Triangle

The indie critics' darlings play a Midwest farm couple in a sci-fi film that intrigues until it confounds.

By Owen Gleiberman

Owen Gleiberman

Chief Film Critic

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Moments later, Mescal’s character, Junior, with a jocular attitude and jaw-thrusting grin that suggests Mark Ruffalo’s puppy-cute kid brother, enters the picture, and for a while we sink into the lives of this couple, registering their quiet distance from each other — the Antonioni-ness of it all. Yet that perception is entangled, for the audience, with some rather prosaic questions. Like: Why doesn’t this couple have friends? Kids? Pets? What, exactly, do they do all day?

Junior, we learn, works at an industrial chicken plant. Hen — given Junior’s job, is her name the film’s idea of a feminist pun? — is a diner waitress but mostly sits around and mopes. The farmhouse, with its peeling paint and 20th-century trappings, has been in Junior’s family for generations, and he’s committed to staying there; that’s become a source of friction between them. The bottom line is that these two are so isolated it’s no wonder their marriage is falling apart.

Terrance (Aaron Pierre), a representative of the (presumably) totalitarian government/corporation/overlords of everything, arrives in a boxy car with sharply glowing headlights that looks like a mid-21st-century DeLorean. (We think: Have the film’s effects designers really gone back to that future?) He has a major announcement. The government is recruiting citizens to spend two years in an experimental space-colonization program. Junior has been chosen, which is to say conscripted; he’ll have to take that journey in a year or two and will have no choice about it. Oh, and there’s another detail. While he’s gone, the government will provide Hen with an AI version of Junior to keep her company. Just like that, “Foe” has gone from being a glum scenes from a marriage to a kinky sci-fi love triangle: Me, my wife, and my replicant.

There are dramatic possibilities to that situation, and up until this point we’re more with “Foe” than not, flowing to its languid rhythms, giving the set-up the benefit of the doubt. But what happens after Terrance makes his big announcement is…strange. A year passes, Terrance returns, but instead of taking Junior away as he promised, he moves in with the couple and subjects them to a series of psychodramatic interviews and tests that require Ronan and Mescal to become showy, Method-acting-class versions of themselves.

Mescal, especially, gets a workout. As the deadbeat dad of last year’s “Aftersun,” he boozed and cried but remained cuddly; in the new and not-yet-released “All of Us Strangers,” he plays a lovelorn queer libertine who is also cuddly. (You wonder if he’s going to make a cuddly gladiator.) But in “Foe,” Mescal puts the Teddy-bear quality aside to have a catharsis that, unfortunately, turns out to be a meaningless catharsis. The more he wails and shouts and suffers, the more we think, What is going on in this movie?

The Paul Mescal character in “Foe” is in for a big surprise. So is the audience. The trouble with the movie is that once you’re confronted with the surprise, and you think back over what you’ve been watching, it makes even less sense. By the end, we dimly perceive the outlines of a message, though it’s not exactly a profound one. I would sum it up as, “Every true love needs a fake half.” To put forth this message, the film twists itself into knots of contrivance and confusion. “Foe” wants to end with a “Whoa.” Instead, it leaves us going “Huh, interesting” and “Whuuut?” at the same time.

Reviewed at New York Film Festival, Sept. 28, 2023. MPA Rating: R. Running time: 110 MIN.

  • Production: An Amazon Studios release of a See-Saw Films, Anonymous Content, I Am That production. Producers: Garth Davis, Kerry Kohansky-Roberts, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman. Executive producers: Samantha Lang, David Levine, Dawn Olmstead, Iain Reid, Robert Walak.
  • Crew: Director: Garth Davis. Screenplay: Garth Davis, Iain Reid. Camera: Mátyás Erdély. Editor: Peter Sciberras. Music: Oliver Coates, Park Jiha, Agnes Obel.
  • With: Saoirse Ronan, Paul Mescal, Aaron Pierre.

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Foe Reviews

foe movie reviews

The story feels like a prequel for “Blade Runner” (1982) meets “The Stepford Wives” (1975) except no human beings were harmed in the making of this film.

Full Review | May 11, 2024

foe movie reviews

A film bravely, and admirably, committed to the kind of big emotional swing that unfortunately proves to be its undoing.

Full Review | Apr 10, 2024

foe movie reviews

It's suffocating to the point where you're as desperate for an escape from this scorched Earth misery as these characters.

Full Review | Original Score: 1/4 | Feb 16, 2024

foe movie reviews

The slow-pace can be frustrating to those looking for more action in their sci-fi, but what you'll find is astute, nuanced performances from two leads, especially Ronan.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Jan 21, 2024

foe movie reviews

These scenes from a marriage are sometimes evocative, but they don’t tie together.

Full Review | Jan 17, 2024

A story with a particularity that, although it exposes aspects of science fiction, in essence it is a marital drama. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Jan 10, 2024

Limited in its development, Foe drowns in its tedious narrative and missteps. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Original Score: 5/10 | Jan 8, 2024

Everybody starts acting very strangely, there are spittle-flying arguments and sweaty sex scenes, and none of it makes much sense until the big reveal, when it makes even less sense.

Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4 | Jan 6, 2024

You’d think a robotic replacement for a husband could be a fun and intriguing look into a possible future — with AI taking over and all that. However, not even Academy Award nominees Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal can save this low-key and weak script.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Jan 5, 2024

It's a monotonous experience that leaves you wondering why this film was made in the first place. Steer clear of this dull film.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Jan 5, 2024

Foe tries to be a head trip, but ends up being a head scratcher.

Full Review | Jan 5, 2024

foe movie reviews

Thorny moral dilemmas intrigue.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5 | Jan 4, 2024

foe movie reviews

When Foe is finished — when fires both figurative and literal have been extinguished and we know (or at least think we know) what has become of Hen and Junior — we’re simply left wanting more from the experience.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/4 | Nov 30, 2023

foe movie reviews

There is no telling where Foe will take you, but it will be a long, hard fall; either to the pits of despair or desire, ambivalence galore

Full Review | Original Score: 75/100 | Nov 23, 2023

foe movie reviews

An unsettling combination of sci-fi, horror and intimate drama that is evoked by two terrific young actors and enhanced by lovely work on camera, but the big picture concerns the narrative explores needed strengthening at the writing stage

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Nov 20, 2023

foe movie reviews

Foe initially presented as a sc-fi but settled into a relationship film where we meet the couple at the fragmented stage. The singular focus was its weakness but the strong performances are without question.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Nov 14, 2023

foe movie reviews

There was potentially an engaging film in this material, but the fuse burns slowly from start to finish, and nothing ever goes bang.

Full Review | Nov 13, 2023

foe movie reviews

Overall, the film must be counted as a disappointment, though there are interesting ­elements to this futuristic drama.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Nov 7, 2023

Foe takes an eternity to arrive at the most obvious developments that will arise from such a concept. The actors try hard throughout, but the movie gives up the ghost way too early.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Nov 1, 2023

foe movie reviews

Although Davis obtains notable powerful performances from his leading duo, the experiment sadly turns out to be insipid, confusing and unnecessary, and a real scam as futuristic cinema. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Nov 1, 2023

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Foe review: One of 2023’s best sci-fi movies that will break your heart

A man and a woman lie in bed in Foe.

“Garth Davis' Foe is one of the most original and moving sci-fi movies of 2023.”
  • An intriguing story
  • Great performances from the two lead actors
  • Beautiful cinematography
  • A third act twist that isn't that surprising

We live in a time when science fiction is quickly becoming a reality. Self-driving cars are becoming more commonplace on highways. Artificial intelligence is challenging, or threatening depending on your stance, the very idea of individual human consciousness. And virtual reality is now a regular part of life; less The Lawnmower Man -type horrors than more of a banal extension of our daily routines like shopping, paying bills, or dating.

A sci-fi dystopia that looks all too familiar

More than meets the ai, a talented cast and crew, not your typical downbeat sci-fi movie.

The beauty of Garth Davis’ new movie, Foe , is that it plays as both a throwback to the humanistic sci-fi tales of the 1960s and 1970s, when the genre was concerned more with personal dilemmas than with elaborate space battles or exotic alien species, and as a cautionary mirror to the near future, when climate change and technology has forced all of humanity to change…or else. Yet unlike Hollywood’s recent alarmist blockbusters like The Creator or Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 , Foe uses its future dystopia as mere window dressing to get at something deeper and more universal. When all is said and done, Foe isn’t about the future, really, but rather about something far more intimate and unsettling: the vulnerability of marriage tested by inertia and outside change.

Right away, Foe paints a bleak picture: It’s the near future, the world’s water supply has run low, and climate change has devastated virtually every corner of the world. Situated in the dried-out Dust Bowl of America’s heartland, young married couple Henrietta, or Hen, (Saoirse Ronan) and Junior (Paul Mescal) do their best to get by. Hen works as a diner waitress and tends to their lifeless homestead, sparing enough recycled water to feed one tree, while Junior works at a meat processing plant in a nearby town. Life is hard, but not impossible; there are moments of lightness and humor between the two, and they fight and make love just like any other couple.

Hen and Junior’s daily routine is disturbed one night by the arrival of Terrance, a stranger who proposes an intriguing offer: Junior has been selected to be a test subject in a space colony that will eventually replace Earth as a habitat for humanity. Will he go and become one of the first citizens of a fully functional outer space station? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime proposal, one that will give meaning to Junior’s life and a potential future for them both.

There is, of course, a catch: Junior will be away for a long time, leaving Hen to take care of the house and potentially harming their marriage. As a solution, Terrance offers Hen an AI companion who looks, acts, and sounds exactly like Junior. After some brief hesitation from Hen and uncertainty from Junior, they eventually accept the offer. Junior goes off to space, and Hen is left with AI Junior

I’ve described Foe ‘s plot as best I can, but the movie unfolds in a slightly different way, with a buildup and a third-act narrative twist that’s at once shocking and logical. From the very first scene, things seem a bit off , and for a long while, you can’t really tell why. Is Hen suspicious of her husband from the get-go? Why does Junior appear to be jealous of Terrance? And what’s the deal with that pesky beetle, which carries more metaphorical weight than you realize?

The director, Garth Davis, strikes a delicate balance between establishing a believable marriage while also laying the foundation for a story that will eventually reveal another hidden layer, one that will question everything you’ve just seen. yet what could have felt manipulative and dishonest instead feels genuinely suspenseful and intriguing; it’s not a cheap trick. In a sci-fi movie largely set in an old home straight out of the 20th century, Foe still feels modern and urgent; there are few lulls in its narrative, and that’s because Davis keeps you engaged with the story and makes you care about the movie’s central relationship.

Of course, it helps that Davis has a talented cast and crew that help bring this skewed sci-fi tale to life. As Hen, Ronan finds shades of subtlety and strength in a character that could’ve been shrill and one-note. Hen isn’t a victim, but she isn’t a symbol of independence either, and Ronan brings out all of the character’s complexities without going overboard. As Junior, Mescal adds yet another sad-eyed man-boy to his filmography, but his performance here feels different from his previous work in Normal People and Aftersun . His Junior is alternatively angry, confused, and defiant, and he pulls off a tricky act that sells the third act twist. As Terrance, Aaron Pierre doesn’t have much to do except look vaguely menacing, but he gives the character a surprising charge, one both violent and erotic, that adds more depth to the character than probably what was intended.

Visually, Foe is one of the richest-looking movies of the year. The cinematographer, Mátyás Erdély, uses dusty browns and washed-out yellows to suggest a thirsty earth as well as a starved marriage, but he punctuates these scenes with occasional bursts of shadow and color that suggest a life beyond the homestead and the promise of change for both Junior and Henrietta. There’s one bravura scene in the middle of the movie that’s unforgettable; at sunset, Junior and Hen run after a wild horse, only to discover a wildfire burning in the dark, with both humans and animals trying to take cover from it. It’s a visual that encapsulates what the movie is about: a fire scorching the earth, disturbing everyone around it, but also giving life to the couple that run toward it, suggesting rebirth and a new start.

Foe could’ve been a bummer of a movie, yet another sci-fi tale that tells us we’re all doomed, but instead, it’s one of the most hopeful movies out there. It’s also one of the most original sci-fi movies in the last 10 years as, like Ex Machina and Arrival before it, it is less concerned with the superficial pleasures the genre brings and more interested in asking basic questions about humanity without finding any easy answers.

It’s not a stretch to say that the movie, in its sometimes brutal portrayal of a disintegrating marriage, has more in common with the 1966 classic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe? than, say, Alien , and that’s what makes it so special. You won’t see anything quite like Foe this year, and you won’t soon forget it either.

Foe is currently playing in theaters nationwide.

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foe movie reviews

Foe review: "Paul Mescal delivers a powerful performance in a twisty sci-fi drama"


GamesRadar+ Verdict

Thoughtful, provocative and powerfully acted, Foe is a cunning drama that you’ll want to puzzle over.

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

Total Film and SFX are hosting a special reader screening of Foe, including a Q&A with director Garth Davis. The screening will take place on Wednesday 11 October in a Central London location; drinks and canapes will be provided! For your chance to see Foe before release, RSVP here:

"Why does the unknown have to be a burden?" asks Terrance (Aaron Pierre, Brother, The Underground Railroad), the handsome government operative who arrives at the Midwest farmhouse home of Henrietta (Saoirse Ronan) and Junior (Paul Mescal).

It’s 2065, and Junior has been selected (or conscripted) to try out for off-world habitation as part of a climate-migration programme. The planet is dying, and humanity is looking for a way off this rock before the dust storms kill us all. So far, so Interstellar . 

Yet Foe is less interested in what lies beyond than in tensions beneath the surface. For large stretches, the only overt sign of advancement is Terrance’s slick, DeLorean-like car. But it turns out that this future world is also marked by the development of ‘human substitutes’. 

Much to the couple’s initial horror, Terrance suggests Junior’s protracted two-year absence in space will be eased by the arrival of an exact AI copy. "We set out to create consciousness," he beams, seemingly unconcerned by the moral implications. 

Adapted from Iain Reid’s novel by the author himself and director Garth Davis (Lion), this three-hander is at heart a relationship portrait, in which Hen and Junior must deal with issues of jealousy. Meanwhile, Terrance’s presence - like an on-tap marriage counsellor - becomes increasingly unsettling. Ronan and Mescal make for a convincing, volatile couple, although it’s Pierre’s mysterious interloper who steals it. 

Admittedly, the film’s oddly paced, elliptical middle section may leave you scratching your head. But then the twisty third act pulls it all together, sending shivers down the spine.

Foe is released in US cinemas on October 6 and in UK cinemas on October 20. 


James Mottram is a freelance film journalist, author of books that dive deep into films like Die Hard and Tenet, and a regular guest on the Total Film podcast. You'll find his writings on GamesRadar+ and Total Film, and in newspapers and magazines from across the world like The Times, The Independent, The i, Metro, The National, Marie Claire, and MindFood. 

Foe writer and director explain the movie's one big change from the book, and break down Terrance's motivations

Foe author and director talk twists, AI, and how they originally wanted the movie to be nothing like the novel

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foe movie reviews


Foe review: Saoirse Ronan is gimlet-eyed in her realism. Paul Mescal is stratospherically anguished

Intermittently engaging sci-fi abounds with ideas but feels stagey.

foe movie reviews

Paul Mescal and Saoirse Ronan both get tortured speeches

You can just about see what drew Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal , Ireland’s most popular young actors, to this deeply puzzlingly, intermittently engaging science-fiction fable from the director of Lion.

Based on a novel by Iain Reid, Foe concerns a couple isolated in a remote farmhouse as the world engages with ecological devastation. Both get to simmer. Both get tortured speeches. For most of its duration Foe plays out like a theatre piece.

That is not just to do with the small cast – it’s essentially a 2½-hander – and the enclosed location. The film revels in the sort of grand coups that work better on stage. This household item gets symbolically smashed up. This individual arrives unexpectedly to unsettle the equilibrium.

Ronan (gimlet-eyed in her realism) and Mescal (stratospherically anguished) relish the opportunity to show off their chops and make connections that may be better exploited in future projects, but the action fails to escape the strictures of allegory and metaphor.

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The high concept is easily outlined. Junior (Mescal) and Hen (Ronan) are visited by a faintly sinister official named Terrance (Aaron Pierre), who explains that the former has been selected to serve on an orbiting space station. Before that happens Terrance will spend time probing Junior in the family home. That research concerns the authority’s decision to leave Hen with a biological clone of her husband who shares all his memories. Well, that doesn’t sound as if it could cause any trouble. Right?

There is no question that Foe abounds with ideas. Shot in a corner of Australia that convincingly stands in for a blasted American west – the paintings of Andrew Wyeth look to be an influence – the film is saying something about the secrets all couples keep from each other. It will come as no surprise that we get to consider how artificial intelligence may eventually become indistinguishable from the real thing.

For all the cast’s best efforts, however, Foe never seems more than a theoretical exercise, a sketch for an uncompleted project. One can’t help but think of the recent sci-fi romp The Creator . That epic was not half so serious in its consideration of the artificial-intelligence dilemma, but you couldn’t reasonably claim it failed to make a film of itself.

[  Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal, together at last! They’ve collided, anyhow  ]

Foe is in cinemas from Friday, October 20th

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist


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foe movie reviews

Foe Review: Emotionally Profound Sci-Fi Thriller

By Jonathan Sim

It’s not often that a movie perfectly understands what the science fiction genre should do. Garth Davis , director of films like Lion and Mary Magdalene, has crafted a truly special film with Foe . This movie stars Paul Mescal and Saoirse Ronan as a married couple living in the Midwest in 2065, the setting for a dystopian future where Earth is becoming increasingly uninhabitable and some are moving to a space station. When a man named Terrance ( Aaron Pierre ) arrives at their door with an unusual proposition, everything kicks into gear, and we have a beautiful film that deals with timely, universal themes.

With A.I. as a constant topic of discussion in the media lately, it’s fascinating to see how films reflect this subject. Foe features the idea of human substitutes, designed to serve in the place of a human in certain situations where humans cannot be present. This movie delves into the concept of whether a person can truly be replicated, with some ideas feeling reminiscent of Blade Runner . Not only is it a very suitable film for the times, but it also subverts a few sci-fi tropes. Typically, when the call to action involves a character being plucked out of their lives to go to space, it is an exciting moment.

However, Foe goes down a different route. Instead, it shows the emotional depth of that decision. Junior (Mescal) is chosen to go into space, and he would have to leave his wife, Henrietta (Ronan), behind. There are bits of Interstellar here as we get to sit with these two people and their emotions. Davis spends a lot of time examining them. Through their dialogue, we see their perfections, their imperfections, everything that makes them work, and everything that doesn’t. They feel lived in, with a long history behind them that they look back upon while being forced to look forward to the future.

Foe is science fiction, it’s psychological thriller, but above all else, it’s a drama. There’s a strong emotional relationship at the center of this film that makes every event very compelling. It sometimes plays like a twisted romance drama that starts out beautiful but takes a hell of a turn in the second half. Davis successfully gets you to care about the characters this movie surrounds. At the core, we have a couple about to be torn apart by external forces, which is heart wrenching and tragic. One particularly well-written scene features Junior telling Henrietta all of the small things he will miss about her, which will resonate with many viewers, myself included.

Mescal is proving himself to be a movie star. He got an Oscar nomination for Aftersun, and this is his second appearance at NYFF after his role in the fantastic All of Us Strangers . He is similarly phenomenal here. There are a few scenes, particularly one where he demonstrates an unspeakable rage, where you get a sense of how fantastic of a performer he is. With his upcoming role in Gladiator 2 , his career is blooming in the direction he deserves. Ronan is one of the best actresses working today, and she brings power and gravitas to her character. Furthermore, we have two Irish lead actors throwing on their perfect American accents in another example of how easy it is for non-American actors to do our accents.

There are three main characters in Foe, but most marketing materials and headlines only showcase the two Oscar-nominated leads. The character of Terrance was originally supposed to be played by Lakeith Stanfield , a phenomenal actor who would have done an excellent job. However, he was replaced by Pierre, who is not the big name that audiences will see the movie for. However, don’t doubt Pierre. He’s sublime in a film that gives him a lot to work with. He’s a mysterious force that can be antagonistic and pull you in with his words. He’s voicing Mufasa in Disney’s upcoming The Lion King prequel film, so we can only hope his career gains traction from here. He is superb.

Foe is beautiful, meditative sci-fi film. It grounds the story in the emotions of a complex romantic relationship. The feelings both lead characters struggle with are true to any real-life couple. There’s something so resonant about a sci-fi movie where the world is in turmoil, but two people can still find happiness in each other, even if it’s finite. There is a lot of tragedy in this movie, especially in the conversations each character has with Terrance, sometimes not knowing what the other person will hear. The final half-hour is particularly astounding, as we have plot points that feel inevitable but in the best way possible. Not all of it works, but the rich, emotional layers allow this movie to be one of the best science fiction films of the year.

SCORE: 8/10

As ComingSoon’s  review policy  explains, a score of 8 equates to “Great.” While there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds at its goal and leaves a memorable impact.

Disclaimer: ComingSoon attended the world premiere at the New York Film Festival for our review.

Jonathan Sim

Jonathan Sim is a film critic and filmmaker born and raised in New York City. He has met/interviewed some of the leading figures in Hollywood, including Christopher Nolan, Zendaya, Liam Neeson, and Denis Villeneueve. He also works as a screenwriter, director, and producer on independent short films.

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‘Foe’ movie review: A portrait of a marriage through a sci-fi-looking glass

Stunning performances by saoirse ronan and paul mescal add an extra patina to this psychological chiller.

January 07, 2024 05:18 pm | Updated 06:26 pm IST

Mini Anthikad Chhibber

Paul Mescal, Saoirse Ronan in a still from ‘Foe’ | Photo Credit: Prime Video

Canadian author Iain Reid’s follow-up novel to the harrowing I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2016), Foe , is again a look at relationships in a remote setting. In the Midwest in 2065, a couple, Hen (Saoirse Ronan) and Junior (Paul Mescal), live on a remote farm that has been in Junior’s family for generations. With natural resources exhausted, the Earth is becoming unliveable and corporations are looking to space for options while using machines to work in danger zones on earth.

One evening, a stranger, Terrance (Aaron Pierre), comes calling. He says he is from an aerospace company called OuterMore and that Junior has been chosen to live on a space station for two years. Junior is not happy at the thought of Hen being alone for the time. Terrance assures him that Hen will be taken care of by a lifelike robot, an exact copy of Junior.

Junior is shocked and repulsed by the idea of a robot taking his place. Terrance moves in with the couple to collect data to make the robot as close to Junior as possible and conduct tests on Junior to make him ready for his space odyssey. There are strains in the relationship as Junior begins to suspect Hen knows more about what is going on than she is letting on.

Foe (English)

The screenplay, which director Garth Davis co-wrote with Reid, like the book is low on science fiction elements. Those looking for a standard-issue dystopian signature are bound to be disappointed. This is a movie about relationships in a sci-fi setting. Apart from the crumbling marriage which echoes the decaying planet, Foe asks questions about memory and identity — which you can say are as much sci-fi staples as human ones.

Do memories make us human? Blade Runner saw Deckard telling Rachel, a replicant, that her memories are an implant and Blade Runner 2049 went a step further with the memory maker. Foe is a film that takes time to reveal its secrets, constantly keeping you off-kilter as you watch the proceedings on screen.

A slow burn, the pay-off is richly rewarding and might prompt you to watch the film again for the clues that are peppered through the narrative, quite like the book with the quotation marks for all dialogue except for one character. The film would have been a slog if it were not for the incandescent performances by Ronan and Mescal. The two are riveting in their depiction of this couple at the end, middle and beginning of a relationship, struggling with the truth, non-truth and post-truth of their lives.

Even the title, which is such a small word, lends itself to heavy-duty interpretation. Foe is a fascinating example of no matter how far we go, there are some things about the human experience that do not change. Like the ‘Beyond the Sea’ episode of Black Mirror — which Foe bears a passing semblance to — this is a movie that stays with you long after the credits have rolled.

Foe is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video

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Foe director breaks down the film's sci-fi twist, Paul Mescal's powerful performance

"A.I. is fascinating because it opens up parts of your brain that don't usually get open and makes you reflect on your own humanity and sentience," Garth Davis tells EW.

Christian Holub is a writer covering comics and other geeky pop culture. He's still mad about 'Firefly' getting canceled.

foe movie reviews

Artificial intelligence has long been a subject of interest for science-fiction, but this year the lines have blurred between what's real and what's fantasy. Thanks to ChatGPT and Bing's new image generator, the internet is proliferating with text and photos that may or may not have been made by humans. Thanks to A.I., "Am I looking at something real?" is an increasingly common question faced by internet users.

That same line-blurring is the heart of director Garth Davis' new sci-fi film Foe . Based on Ian Reid's novel of the same name, Foe stars Paul Mescal and Saoirse Ronan as a rural couple in a near-future America. As climate change ravages the planet, a new government program wants to test both the viability of humans to survive in space, and the possibility of replacing space-bound humans with A.I. lookalikes. Mescal's Junior is selected by the mysterious Terrance (Aaron Pierre) to test both these hypotheses, starting a process that ripples through his marriage. An exclusive clip from the film (shown in the video above) presents Terrance's arrival.

"What drew me to the book was the central relationship. That's the beating heart of the story," Davis tells EW. "But there are also these wonderful metaphors in the novel, how the decaying marriage reflects the decaying planet. I'm also fascinated by identity and how do you know what is real? That's not unique to artificial intelligence. In a longterm relationship, do we lose our identity? Do we get replaced by our partner's identity?"

At first, Foe might seem like a paradoxical movie. Its head is in the clouds, with space stations and robots, but the screen is fixed on recognizable rural life. Ronan's Henrietta fetches water from a well and takes orders as a waitress at a roadside diner, while Junior works in a chicken factory.

"A.I. is fascinating because it opens up parts of your brain that don't usually get open and makes you reflect on your own humanity and sentience," Davis says. "There's sentience in trees, there's sentience in everything, and we have a responsibility to all of it. The chicken factory is interesting because they have sentience too, but we just see them on a factory line. So, when that A.I. becomes human, how are we gonna react to it? Are we gonna treat it like the chickens?"

In this movie, at least, they do. The key scene of Foe comes near the end, when the movie's sci-fi twist is revealed. We learn that, up to this point, we have not actually been watching the real Junior, but his A.I. substitute who has been led to believe he was real. Terrance shows up again, along with a lot of faceless government figures, to put this artificial Junior out to pasture.

It's a brutal scene, clothed in an alarming pink light as the fake Junior (but as far as viewers are concerned, the only Junior we've ever known) is stripped down, covered in a strange liquid, and "turned off" in the worst way imaginable.

"I wanted it to feel as alarming as the chicken factory," Davis says of A.I. Junior's death scene. "They strip him down and kill him like an animal because he's not human. The brutal truth of that, that because he's not human they think they can treat him however they want to, was very powerful to me. From a directorial point of view, I really loved the idea that whenever the outside world shows its face, it had a distinct difference. So, the green light birthed him at the beginning of the film and then the pink light was his death."

As you might imagine, Davis talked a lot with Mescal about how to play the two versions of Junior. As the A.I. Junior is so brutally decommissioned, we meet the "real" Junior as he watches his robot self be destroyed. Afterward, we learn that this Junior is older, more isolated, and emotionally closed off from his wife. He even seems to resent the time Henrietta spent with the A.I., which was based on his younger personality.

"She didn't have an affair with a stranger, she had an affair with the version of her husband that she first met," Davis says. "That's an intriguing idea, because he's not having to play a different character, he's just having to play an earlier version of a character. We spoke about physicality, like, how does someone's physicality shift when you become more emotionally closed and shutdown? That bubbles up in the performance. One of the things I really love about that scene is where you see the real Junior looking at a version of himself dying right there on the floor. It's almost like he's looking back at himself when he used to be free."

Throughout the movie, the filmmaker plays with the beetles that wander the couple's home, and whether android Junior or the real Junior would choose to crush them. It's a note repeated at the end of the movie when Henrietta leaves to explore the world, while an android that replaces her at the house sees a similar critter. With Mescal's performance as the older Junior observing his writhing android on the floor, Davis says, "You can tell that he knows that he's crushing that beetle and denying that part of himself. He's allowing it to happen. There's something very deep happening in those glances and in those performances that Paul and I really got into. It's a real rabbit hole."

Foe is playing now in theaters.

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Foe ending explained: what happens to Junior and Hen?

The Paul Mescal-Saoirse Ronan sci-fi flick is now on Prime Video—let's break down that twist ending

Foe ending explained. Pictured: Paul Mescal and Saoirse Ronan in Foe

If you need that shocking Foe ending explained, we don't blame you—the twists and turns are so plentiful in the 2023 sci-fi flick that we here at What to Watch dubbed it one of the most shocking movie moments of the year. 

Based on Ian Reid's 2018 novel of the same name, Foe stars Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal—who you can also currently see in All of Us Strangers opposite Andrew Scott—as a married couple, Hen and Junior, who live in a near-future dystopia in which a climate crisis is ravaging the planet. (Sounds familiar!) 

Their simple, rural life in the American Midwest is turned upside down when a stranger named Terrance (Aaron Pierre) comes to inform them that Junior has been selected to live on a space station for two years as part of a governmental program to test whether humans can adapt to permanent settlement in space. 

Hen has to stay behind but she'll be accompanied by a "simulant" programmed to look and act like her husband while Junior is away in space. While A.I. Junior is being developed, Terrance will be staying with the spouses and interviewing them about their life and relationship to help set up the simulant. Creepy stuff, huh?

Well, it goes without saying that things get infinitely more complicated for the couple as time goes on and the countdown to Junior's take-off creeps ever closer. Now that Foe is available to stream with a Prime Video subscription , let's unpack that big plot twist, shall we? 

Warning: spoilers for the film Foe are very much ahead!

Here's the biggie: Mescal's Junior that we follow through the entire film isn't Junior at all, but the simulant. Yes, by the time we see Terrance "arrive" at the couple's home in the beginning of the movie, the real Junior has already been sent to the space station and the A.I. replica is the one we see living at home and bonding with Hen. And the whole time, Terrance's interviews with Junior and Hen weren't part of the set-up but to monitor the android. 

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We see the real Junior return home after his two-year space sojourn. As a result, the simulant Junior is decommissioned as the real Junior and a devastated Hen watches on: the android is stripped naked, covered in a mysterious liquid and basically vacuum-sealed by government officials. 

The relationship between the real Junior and Hen deteriorates because it's clear that Hen began having feelings for the simulant. At the film's end, Hen has abandoned her husband to fulfill her dream of exploring the world, leaving behind an empty note. However, soon "Hen" returns to their home, happy and docile—but it's clear that this Hen, too, is a simulant, left behind to accompany Junior. 

This switcheroo is suggested by the presence of a three-horned beetle, which A.I. Hen sees in one of the final scenes and is a motif that director Garth Davis utilizes throughout the film to clue in audiences that "Junior" isn't entirely who he thinks he is. As the real Hen sits on a plane awaiting her adventure, we hear her in voiceover: "My whole life people have been telling me what I like, what I want, what I need. I had to become someone different, someone else. But now I know. There is only one of me."

Foe is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. 

Christina Izzo is the Deputy Editor of My Imperfect Life. More generally, she is a writer-editor covering food and drink, travel, lifestyle and culture in New York City. She was previously the Features Editor at Rachael Ray In Season and Reveal, as well as the Food & Drink Editor and chief restaurant critic at Time Out New York. 

When she’s not doing all that, she can probably be found eating cheese somewhere. 

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Foe thoughts - I am full of questions

What the heck did I just see!

This is for Foe (2023), just came out on PVOD. The performances were great (Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal), but too much was confusing and I have so many questions. Much of it seems unnecessarily dressed up with overly emotional moments non-stop and very odd, weird interactions and ridiculous conversations that still don't make sense EVEN AFTER the finale reveal. Yes, I get what the ending was, but so much else before made no sense and just seemed like over-the-top melodramatic subterfuge.

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foe movie reviews

Lance Oppenheim ’s three-part HBO docuseries “Ren Faire” walks that fine line between mocking and celebrating its incredibly unique subjects. I told a friend just now that I was reviewing a docuseries about a “Succession”-esque power struggle at a Renaissance fair, and he said, “So, a comedy?” Yes and no. While aspects of “Ren Faire” are undeniably funny, there are also parts that are equally fascinating regarding the human condition to give everything you have to one thing, either because you love it or really because you know nothing else. These people certainly don’t think there’s anything comedic about Renaissance cosplay or the art of perfecting kettle corn. And while Oppenheim’s series sometimes feels a little over-directed and over-heated, that makes sense for the world of Renaissance Fairs, where what some might dismiss as comedy is taken very, very seriously.

You won’t soon forget King George Coulam, the octogenarian multi-millionaire founder of the Texas Renaissance Festival, the largest of these events in the world. Coulam is obscenely wealthy—a glimpse of his profile on a site where he’s looking for a woman half his age to be a sugar daddy for lists his wealth at over $100 million—and, well, the descriptor 'irascible' would be the politest way to define him. Coulam lords over his empire like an actual King, clearly taking his position in this operation seriously but also succumbing to what would delicately be called a toxic workplace. He randomly yells at employees when he’s not scouring the web for a woman to live out his last decade on Earth with. A series of dates with potential partners at Olive Garden wherein Coulam repeatedly asserts the importance of natural breasts are truly amazing docu-theater, the kind of docuseries moments that make this show feel a bit more like “The Righteous Gemstones” than “Succession.”

Coulam’s empire is more than turkey legs in an abandoned field and endless breadsticks on awkward dates. The Texas Renaissance Festival is an impressive operation—one wishes the series spent a bit more time just on the sheer scope of an event with thousands of attendees, multiple shops, events, restaurants, etc. And Coulam loves to bathe in his success, whether it’s the opulence of his “rococo” house—which he basically explains means a lot of extravagance—or the fact that he’s basically founded a small town around the festival, over which he’s the mayor, of course. Coulam is judge, jury, and executioner in this mini-society, proclaiming how he wants to step down and find a successor but is increasingly erratic in his judgments and behaviors. It’s hard to be the King.

“Ren Faire” pushes forward three potential heirs to the Coulam throne: Jeff Baldwin, Louie Migliaccio, and Darla Smith. Baldwin is the most sympathetic of the bunch, an actor who loves Shrek: The Musical and seems to come to life on the stage. As the general manager of the festival, the kind Baldwin has undeniably been a success, but King George doubts his instincts to run the whole thing and gets obsessed with the fact that Jeff wants to hire his wife, even though she’s qualified and experienced to take the job. George is the insulated and privileged boss whose quirks can become toxic if you happen to rub him the wrong way on the wrong day. One feels that Jeff has done that a few times, which is normal for an employee, but George isn’t a normal boss. To take the “Succession” thing a step further, if George is Logan than Jeff is Kendall—the obvious heir to everyone but daddy.

The competition for the throne comes down to a kettle corn pioneer named Louie Migliaccio, who has created and managed numerous businesses on the Ren Faire property and has the bankroll from a family of wealthy donors to buy out George’s legacy. Vendor coordinator Darla Smith watches as Louie and Jeff battle each other and makes a bid for power on her own. Other personalities move in and out of King George’s court. Still, Oppenheim latches onto the “Game of Thrones” aspect of this business almost to a fault. There’s a version of “Ren Faire” that grounds its drama in a world that feels less exaggerated merely by presenting a few more of the “normal” people around George and his successors. For example, an assistant spends his days updating George’s dozen-plus dating website profiles and taking him to the aforementioned Olive Garden encounters. I wanted a whole episode about what he thinks of all of this.

However, the insulated, tight POV in “Ren Faire” is intentional in that it makes us feel as crazy as George and keeps the series engaging in George's unpredictable immediacy. He is a man driven around his empire, complaining when people aren’t wearing hats or yelling at his minions about their lack of planning. He is feared as much as he is respected, a man who seems downright confused at times … except when he’s talking about his fair. He is a riveting docuseries subject in that he seems entirely unaware of his flaws, having been lauded and admired in his self-created kingdom for generations. No wonder he doesn’t want to give up the throne. Who would he be without it?

Whole series screened for review. Premieres on HBO on June 2 nd .

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Managing Editor of, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and GQ, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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Inside Out 2 Review: A New Flood Of Emotions Enhances One Of Pixar’s Best Ideas

There’s more joy to be found in the animated sequel..

Joy and Sadness in Inside Out 2

Release Date: June 14, 2024 Directed By: Kelsey Mann Written By: Dave Holstein & Meg LeFauve Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Tony Hale, Liza Lapira, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Paul Walter Hauser, Kensington Tallman, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan Rating: PG for some thematic elements Runtime: 96 minutes

Since Pixar’s first feature film steps with Toy Story back in 1995, the animation studio has been bringing imagination and cleverness to the ordinary. We’ve never looked at toys, bugs, rats, fish or cars the same way again since Pixar had something to say about them. But arguably one of the studio’s best (and most influential) stories remains 2015's Inside Out . When writer/director Pete Docter gave faces and personalities to the core five emotions within us all, he and the other filmmakers told a wholly universal and often too real story that illustrated the answer to a question we’ve all had many times over: " What’s going on in our heads? " Nearly a decade later, Pixar’s sequel to Inside Out is here, and I know, you’re curious about the answer to this one: " Will Inside Out 2 make you ugly cry again?" Yes, but maybe not in the same way it did the first time. 

Inside Out 2 marks the first sequel from Pixar in five years following a slew of original, but sadly underrated movies from the studio, most of which were not theatrical events. Unlike Toy Story 4 feeling like it overstayed the franchise’s welcome by giving Buzz and Woody a second ending for some reason, Pixar found a truly great reason to return to Riley’s mind for this sequel. Joy and the gang are here for us to feel all the feels, laugh at Pixar’s inventive, pounding warm and fuzzy heart, and appreciate an even deeper world that was first established in the modern classic. 

Inside Out 2’s mind is sharper and more mature as it follows a new phase of Riley’s life. 

Riley Anderson is only one year older than she was in the original Inside Out for 2 , and it doesn’t take long to realize she’s maturing. This film has done so with her. The sequel opens by taking audiences in the inner corners of Riley's head for her latest school hockey game. Instantly, we’re brought into the quick-witted dialogue as the animated movie bounces between reality and the 13-year-old balancing her emotions through the thrilling opening sequence. Riley’s mind has never looked better, with Pixar’s award-winning animation sparkling on the big screen with the filmmakers’ stunning attention to detail you want to memorize every frame of. It’s a joy to the senses to see Riley actually having imperfections on her face (as most 13-year-olds do) or Joy having glow-in-the-dark stars next to her bed – because of course she does! 

Inside Out 2 ’s 96-minute runtime breezes by as it once again takes a quite ordinary few days in Riley’s life and turns it into a full-blown epic adventure occurring mainly inside her noggin. On the outside, Riley is going to a hockey camp ahead of transitioning to high school, but on the inside, she’s just started puberty, and that means a lot of changes are occurring. The life event is illustrated as a massive red button in her mind’s console that wakes up the emotions in the middle of the night by flashing profusely before more chaos begins to break loose in her brain. This is best exemplified by the entrance of four new emotions: Anxiety ( Maya Hawke ), Envy ( Ayo Edebiri ), Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and Embarassment (Paul Walter Hauser).

Each of them feel like perfect encapsulations of the emotions, whether it's Embarrassment always hiding himself deeper under his hoodie or Edebiri’s li'l ball of adorableness widening her eyes at everything she’s not. Tt’s a blast to see Pixar once again bring some zaniness to everyday feelings, and as the first movie masterfully did, Riley's experiences are broad enough for many to relate to. 

The sequel finds a formidable foe in anxiety. 

As it was perhaps easy to guess by the movie’s marketing, Anxiety is the biggest threat to Riley’s changing mind in Inside Out 2 . Between Maya Hawke’s fast-talking portrayal of its voice and some real braininess from the animators, Anxiety makes plans to take over in ways that sabotages what Joy has been doing as the center of her mind thus far. Inside Out 2 has carefully translated the emotion into a complicated villain that seems to have Riley’s best interests at heart – to keep her away from danger, but has misguided ways of going about doing so. It's intriguing to see Pixar develop into the world they’ve already built in the first movie. 

Not only is the rise of Anxiety in Riley’s mind very entertaining to see shake up the foundation of the first five emotions' quarters, it feels like in doing so Inside Out 2 is providing something important to pop culture for generations to come. Just as Sadness and Joy’s tension allowed us in the first movie to reconcile our own relationships with the two powerful emotions, Anxiety’s rampage offers awareness and valuable insight about the self-sabotage involved when worries about the future can control one’s lives. 

Inside Out 2 doesn’t fully live up to the impact of the original, but that’s OK. 

Inside Out had two huge messages that will remain in many of our core memories forever: don’t push aside your sadness, as it’s important too, and childhood innocence is impermanent (we miss you, Bing Bong!) There’s a rawness about the lessons that Riley Andersen learned in the first movie that will remain the closest because it was the first time we watched Pixar translate our brains into an animated masterpiece. We’ve seen Pixar pull off this magic trick before, so it's just a smidge less powerful, but that doesn’t undercut the depth of what Inside Out 2 decides to delve into this time. 

Yes, this sequel can’t escape adventuring down some familiar neural pathways of the first movie in a way that feels familiar and even repetitive at times, but there’s also a slew of new ideas and expansiveness to the beloved characters here that feels like a comeback to form we’re nostalgic for from Pixar… on the big screen, anyway. 

What a glorious tool it is for audiences of all ages to take time to see emotions in front of you and recognize them each for their flaws and strengths. It's beautiful to know that both Inside Out movies can live inside our collective brains rent-free to, if anything, remind us of the collective adventures of mixed emotions constantly going on in each of our own heads. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.

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‘The Exorcism’ Review: Losing Faith

Russell Crowe stars as an actor playing an exorcist who’s battling his own demons.

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In a living room, two girls crouch on either side of a man. They are all looking at something disturbing offscreen.

By Alissa Wilkinson

“The Exorcism” starts from an instantly compelling premise: On the set of a horror movie about an exorcist, demons lurk. Horror films often tap into ancient fears rooted in myth; this is just a more modern one. As one character tells another, “All kinds of things happen on the sets of devil movies.” Then she names a few examples: “‘The Omen,’ ‘The Exorcist,’ ‘Poltergeist.’” It’s true — over decades, stories of freak accidents and deaths on those sets have grown into the kind of lore that can power its own horror film.

That “The Exorcist” is named in this list is a little funny, since the film-within-the-film is clearly just a variant on William Friedkin’s influential 1973 classic. The nested movie is even called “The Georgetown Project,” a reference to the setting of “The Exorcist.” (“The Exorcism,” directed by Joshua John Miller from a screenplay he wrote with M.A. Fortin, seems named to provoke the comparison, too, though that also makes talking about it a little confusing.) What’s more, the first scene in “The Exorcism” reveals that “The Georgetown Project” is about a priest having a crisis of faith who is called to cast a demon out of a teenage girl, and that the house built on the soundstage is a dead ringer for the more famous movie’s set. In other words: In “The Exorcism,” they’re basically making “The Exorcist.”

Religious horror — which is to say, horror movies that specifically evoke religious imagery — can be hopelessly hokey, thoughtlessly appropriative, or thoughtful. I’d put “The Exorcist,” one of Hollywood’s best meditations on faith and doubt, in the thoughtful camp, and for the first half-hour of “The Exorcism,” I though it would land there too. It’s about a famous actor named Tony Miller (Russell Crowe, looking sufficiently tortured), whose addictions and grief have recently derailed his career and life. He is given a chance to star as a priest in “The Georgetown Project” by its cranky jerk of a director (Adam Goldberg) after the role is suddenly and violently vacated. Tony thinks it is the salvation he needs.

Catholic symbology plays an outsized role in horror — thanks, in no small part, to the influence of “The Exorcist.” Often movies end up grappling with whether the words, rites and sacramental objects of the Catholic church have power of their own, regardless of the beliefs and righteousness of the wielder. “The Exorcism” dips into this inquiry but goes further. In this movie, Catholicism is both the villain and the hero.

Tony’s sardonic 16-year-old daughter, Lee (Ryan Simpkins), for instance, shows up at home because she has been suspended from her Catholic boarding school for protesting the principal’s choice to fire her gay guidance counselor. She and Tony have a fraught relationship given Tony’s checkered past, which, we come to realize, has something to do with a horrifying experience from his days as an altar boy.

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  1. REVIEW: Foe (2023)

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