For many, the idea of remaking a classic film or TV show usually ends in a collective eye roll. However, last Friday’s premiere of the new FOX horror-series “The Exorcist” proved to viewers that this is not the same possession story they know, and why that’s a good thing.
The prospect of taking a popular horror novel/film and fitting it into a serialized format is a daunting one. And while I expected the creators to take the safe route and stick to what we know of this devilish tale, they in fact have expanded the world in a way that feels exciting and fresh.
They start with providing a new family being tormented by demonic forces. The pilot features a well-rounded view of the Rance family, showing enough background to make them feel grounded in reality—making what’s happening to them all the more horrifying. Geena Davis portrays Angela, the matriarch of the Rance clan and the head of the house after her husband’s recent brain injury. Davis provides the most star power in the series while the rest of the cast is filled with relatively unknowns. Although initially I found Davis’s portrayal to be a tad stiff, you come to understand that this is a woman who has experienced major traumas in her life. She is a mother desperately clinging on to normalcy and coming to grips with the possibility of her daughter being possessed by a demon.
Angela seeks out help from her local priest Father Tomas, played expertly by Alfonso Herrera. Tomas is a new and young priest to his parish, and inexperienced in the world of exorcisms. But events surrounding the Rance family causes him to seek out help of his own. Tomas begins to have visions of a man named Father Marcus (played by Ben Daniels), who performs/performed exorcisms in Mexico City. After some digging, Tomas is able to locate Marcus in just the next city over at a place for blackballed priests. We don’t know what has caused his visions or why they’re leading him to Marcus but it adds to the mystique of the series to keep viewers wanting more.
Pilots are usually always problematic in one form or another, and for the Exorcist it was the pacing. It felt like not enough was happening for Angela to jump so fast onto the demon possession train. And while it was to be assumed this stuff had been happening for a while previously, it still felt like an abrupt jerk when switching from gear one to gear four. Although this is to be expected on network television, it is better for the Exorcist to be wary about how fast they want to action to go without compromising the mysterious atmosphere that is one of its strengths.
Overall, The Exorcist proves itself to be one of the most promising programs this fall. I’m excited to see how the shows universe grows and if they develop the mythology they seem to be, I could see The Exorcist sticking around for the long haul.