William Peter Blatty’s seminal demonic possession novel became a legitimate phenomenon (oxymoronic pun sort of intended) when William Freidkin adapted it in 1973. The film version of The Exorcist struck a chord with audiences and critics alike, winning two Academy Awards and four Golden Globes. It also stirred a trend, causing many a filmmaker from New York to Hollywood to spit out an Exorcist clone.
More than 40 years later, the paranormal market is still warm, despite the heaps of ghost hunters and demonologists traipsing about on cable and YouTube. And just when you thought it was safe to eat pea soup again, along comes FOX.
THR announced FOX has ordered up a pilot based on the '70s horror classic. The network also pegged screenwriter Jeremy Slater (Fantastic Four) – who will also act as executive producer in addition to James Robinson, Barbara Wall, and David Robinson for Morgan Creek and 20th Century Fox Television – to pen the first one hour episode. All indications so far point to a relatively faithful adaption, perhaps minus Mercedes McCambridge’s invective-laced performance as the demon-possessed teen's voice (Regan was played by Linda Blair, of course), unless the pilot winds up on FX.
The book was based on the strange case of Roland Doe, an anonymous boy exorcised by the Catholic Church in 1949. The book and film revolve around the possession and exorcism of a young girl named Regan (Linda Blair) and the wavering faith of Father Damien Karras. The terrifying movie spawned several mediocre sequels, including Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), The Exorcist III (1990) and a twice-baked reboot, Exorcist: The Beginning and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (both 2004). Over the years, there have been several rumored spinoff series and films, including reports that Blatty himself was attached to a mini-series, but nothing much came to fruition.
A fresh take on the Exorcist series is an intriguing and welcome possibility, as long as it’s handled properly. The original film has consistently ranked among the scariest films of all time. In spite of its otherwise dated look, the film still has enough gravitas to creep out even jaded modern audiences (crab walk anyone?). Plus, an updated Exorcist series has a wealth of potential characters and subplots to mine, such as exploring the priesthood and the Catholic Church, as well as Regan and her family. There are also host of moral implications the show could explore, including the legitimacy of exorcism, faith versus science, and the concepts of life after death.
However, if the show chooses to play it safe, it could wind up a DOA supernatural drama with fewer teeth than an episode of Goosebumps. In addition, FOX’s choice in writers could influence the series as well. Slater’s Fantastic Four wasn’t exactly a knockout at the box office or with critics. But if he stays true to the original material, an Exorcist series has the potential to enhance and enrich the original storyline.
Screen Rant will keep you posted on the progress of The Exorcist TV series as news is made available.