Time hasn’t done much to quell the terror of The Exorcist, which to this day still tops many people’s list of most terrifying horror films of all time. Based on the novel by William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist tells the story of a sweet-natured teenager who becomes possessed by an entity claiming to be the Devil himself, and the girl’s only hope is an extremely dangerous exorcism performed by two priests.
With the exception of The Exorcist Part III – a chilling sequel in which Jason Miller (who played Father Damian Karras in the original film) and Brad Dourif both starred as a new antagonist called “The Gemini Killer,” with their performances spliced together almost seamlessly through the use of clever editing – the follow-up Exorcist movies have been fairly underwhelming. Despite this, the sustained popularity of Friedkin’s movie and the potential for further exploration of the mythos have meant that a new adaptation of The Exorcist never seems to be too far away.
40 years after William Friedkin’s original adaptation of The Exorcist first sent audiences home with a handful of nightmares, Deadline reports that Morgan Creek has begun shopping a new TV series based on the novel to various networks, and that several broadcast and cable networks have already taken an interest in the project.
The series is being penned by up-and-comer Jeremy Slater, who doesn’t yet have any credits on finished films, but nonetheless has fingers in a lot of pies. He penned the screenplay for the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot and an adaptation of graphic novel series Fable, and has sold spec scripts for horror movie Tape 4 and action-comedy My Spy. When a writer is this in-demand by so many studios, they’re generally worth keeping an eye on.
This is far from the first horror TV show we’ve heard about in development, and likely won’t be the last. The groundwork has been laid with the success of shows like The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, True Blood and Hannibal – all of which blend traditional horror successfully with ongoing dramatic narratives – and right now it seems like everyone wants to make the next big horror series. Even Scream is now being adapted for TV.
Attempts to turn The Exorcist into a TV series have been coming and going for years now, the most recent being a miniseries proposed last year with Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene) set to adapt Blatty’s original novel into ten TV episodes. Though that project ended up fizzling out before it got off the ground, this new series might be a new iteration of it, since producer Roy Lee (who was working on Durkin’s miniseries) is also set to executive produce this new show.
There are plenty of ways to make The Exorcist work as a TV show; the format could even open up opportunities that wouldn’t be possible in the movie, by stretching out the horror of dealing with a possessed family member over an entire season. However, given the failure of previous attempts at an Exorcist TV series, and the fact that this latest pitch has yet to be picked up by any networks, it’s best not to count the evil before it’s manifested.
The Exorcist is still waiting to be commissioned by a network, but we’ll keep you updated on any further developments.