Remake after remake after reboot, when it comes to 2016 TV the glimmers of originality have been few and far between. When the Exorcist was announced to be coming to TV, I like many people had reservations.
There had been a failed Omen sequel that happened just last year and the only horror that seemed to work on TV had Ryan Murphy heading it up.
So what happens when you remake one of the best horror movies on the 20th century and update it for a modern audience.
You get a surprisingly good tv show.
Father Thomas Ortega is a priest at a church in Chicago with a dwindling congregation, the mundanity of his life is palpable. The first fifteen minutes doesn’t exactly make for compelling TV as the Rance family are introduced, Angela Rance a religious woman trying to hold her family together, Henry Rance has early on set dementia, Casey Rance is a sweet girl trying to please everyone and Kat Rance is a moody millennial.
Angela Rance is convinced that there is something demonic in her house, a pious woman with a perfect house. She thinks her daughter Kat, whom just returned from college is possessed by an evil force.
Father Marcus is in Mexico trying to get rid of a demonic spirit inhabiting a young boy. Father Marcus brandishes a gun which feels a little ‘we’re not regular priests we’re cool priests’. Exorcising the young boy he ticks off all the boxes for Linda Blair’s original creepy demonic possessed kid but so far things all feel pretty cookie-cutter…
But Father Thomas stumbles into the exorcism and sees Father Marcus at work bringing in Thomas’ whole line of questioning about his faith.
Faith is a tricky thing to talk about on something as neutral as TV while B style horror movies and anything by Dan Brown can wax lyrically on about the Catholic church fucking up, a show like this treads on very dangerous ground.
The two priests finally meet, the dynamic between the older priest and the younger one are as nuanced as you’d expect but Father Thomas is finally starting to believe and this is where things finally get interesting…
Squeezing a climactic twist into a ten minute slot Father Thomas returns to the Rance house ready to take on the spirit inside Kat. As the enter the attic they discover it’s not Kat who’s possessed but rather sweet and innocent Casey. Her persona changing from pure evil to polite again as soon as her mother enters the room behind Father Thomas. She comments on him killing a rat and notes rather nonchalantly “don’t they say where there’s one, there’s probably a whole bunch?”
The twist is definitely going to make things interesting and the attic in of itself was spine tingling. And the satisfying moment we hear the ‘tubular bells’ as Father Thomas witnesses a creepy looking Casey at the window we’ve finally got our horror movie groove back.