About three years ago, exactly, we first reported on a TV miniseries based on The Exorcist - which would’ve immediately set off all kinds of alarm bells, if not for the saving grace that the miniseries was being shepherded by William Friedkin (director of The Exorcist movie) and William Peter Blatty (writer of the The Exorcist novel).
Flash-forward three years and now comes word that this Exorcist miniseries is still alive and kicking – and may be nearer to production than ever before – thanks to an in-demand script by an up-and-coming Hollywood talent.
Vulture reports that Sean Durkin – writer and director of acclaimed indie drama Martha Marcy May Marlene - is adapting Blatty’s novel into a ten-episode miniseries that will be backed by producer Roy Lee (The Departed, The Ring, The Grudge, 7500 - and many other horror films past and present), as well as Morgan Creek Productions. Word is executives at several networks are already circling the project, even though it won’t be formally shopped around for another few weeks.
Of course, there is still the question of how one takes a story about a priest curing a young girl of a demonic spirit and stretches that out into a 10-part tale for TV. Durkin’s story will apparently focus on the family dynamic before young Regan MacNeil becomes possessed, how the family copes (or does not cope) with the situation, and how the dire circumstances finally push them toward the church, and the assistance of Father Damian Karras. No clear indication yet whether that “family” will still consist solely of Regan and her famous mother Chris (played by Ellen Burstyn in the film), or if the family will be expanded to include more members for the sake of drama. We should hear more soon.
Similar approaches to the exorcism sub-genre have been more or less tried in films like The Last Exorcism and/or The Exorcism of Emily Rose - but not to the degree which we can only assume Durkin is going to venture. It’s an interesting prospect that combines the best kind of dysfunctional family drama (a la Six Feet Under) with freaky elements of horror – hopefully resulting in a show where family dysfunction becomes a thrilling, chilling, thing to watch.
If you haven’t seen Martha Marcy May Marlene - do yourself a favor and do so. It wasn’t just a breakout vehicle for rising star Elizabeth Olsen – the indie sleeper was proof that Durkin has a gift for subtle-yet-searing psycho-drama – a talent that would greatly benefit this new telling of Blatty’s famous tale.
We’ll keep you updated as The Exorcist TV miniseries gets shopped around to networks in the coming weeks.