This past Friday, The Exorcist premiered on Fox to a lukewarm reception. It by no means did horribly considering it was on a night generally considered to be black hole for television shows. I went into the show with somewhat low expectations, as The Exorcist franchise is more miss than hit when it comes to subsequent outings to the classic original. The only one I cared for was Exorcist III, which is generally panned by critics.
The setup is all too familiar to fans of the movie as well as the novel. A demon-possessed child terrorizes a family. Two priests come to their aid resulting in three deaths. It’s a tale as old as time really. The pilot episode sets up the story fairly well. Old viewers will delight in all the nods to the original while newcomers can easily follow the story. The show does suffer from a few telegraphed jump scares, a “twist ending” that anyone who has seen a horror film can predict, and some over-the-top story tropes, but it is a solid beginning to what promises to be an intense outing.
It Has An All-Star Cast
The show stars horror alum Geena Davis, famous for one of horror's most quotable movie taglines — "Be afraid. Be very afraid." (The Fly). It’s good to see her back in the horror setting playing the maternal figure of the Rance clan. Alan Ruck of Spin City and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off fame plays her husband. Due to an undisclosed accident, he has memory issues and is thus a source of turmoil in the pack. Brianne Howey plays their college-aged daughter. She is a recluse due to her having a near-death experience which took the life of her friend in a car accident. Rounding out the Rance family is Hannah Kasulka, who plays the recipient of the demon Pizzuzzu (presumably that’s its name).
It Brings A Fresh Take
The old and young priests are played by Ben Daniels and Alfonso Herrera respectively. Right away I fell in love with these characters as Daniels’s Father Marcus is shown fighting a different demon-possessed child with little success, while Herrera’s Father Tomas is happy in his church life despite doubting whether he in fact heard the call to serve. It is a nice homage to the original Father Karras who was experiencing a crisis of faith when he was called to fight the forces of evil.
The nods to the original are very apparent, with the first possession in the beginning scenes, the picture of the famous stairway from the original film, and the attic scene taken up to eleven. This is also where that massive twist ending happens. I’ll give the producers credit. For something that I saw coming from miles away, it is still handled effectively and gave me an eerie moment, which led to the outright chills I felt at the very end of the show. I won’t spoil it here but believe me, I was double-checking over my shoulder before I turned the lights out that night.
Overall, The Exorcist is a good show worth checking out. In a sea of reboots, remakes, reimaginings, and every other term they’re using to rehash classics, this is a well-handled property based on strong source material. And it’s only five episodes so you don’t have to feel obligated to stick it out for a whole season if it’s not your cup of tea. I say give it a go. It can’t be any worse than Exorcist: The Beginning.
Just check out one of the spine-chilling teasers for The Exorcist if you lack faith:
What was the last horror TV show that you fell in love with?