This likely won’t come as a major shock to most readers, but I was obsessed with the Exorcist as a kid. I recall seeing the same short trailer for the film playing on various stations all over the television. A trailer which refused to explain anything that was going on, what it was about nor whom was involved. It only stated that the scariest movie of all time was making a comeback for its 25th anniversary and that it would be in theaters for a limited time only.
Of course, attempts to have my mother bring me to see said film were fruitless. How was she going to bring in an eleven year old boy to see a film of this caliber without repercussions occurring both mentally for myself and socially for her. So she gave me the easiest answer she possibly could and one I would easily believe.
“It’s not that good. You wouldn’t like it.”
Being that my mother was my main source of what to watch in horror and had not disappointed me in the past, how could I possibly not believe her?
Flash forward a year or two.. The idea of the film had been long out of my head but would soon magically reappear when attending Paul’s, one of my best friends, birthday party where all have and behold, we were going to watch two films. One being some drama featuring Angelina Jolie and the other being The Exorcist.
The name rung familiar with me and couldn’t quite figure out why but when that film started playing it hit me that this was the supposed “scariest movie of all time and upon completing my first viewing I was horrified, amazed, excited and intrigued to learn more. This started a long obsession with not only the film and book which it was based off of, but anything surrounding the catholic version of the Rites of Exorcism including how it works and reading up on lesser known cases from around the world.
It became such an obsession to me and a couple of my friends that we based our science fair project on horror films and their effects on people. This allowed us to spread the horror among others in the school and film their raw emotions and reactions to key scenes from the film.
This project also lead us to a nearby church in which our teacher convinced us to ask the priest to speak about his thoughts of the whole “Exorcist” phenomenon. He agreed to the interview and we quickly set up the camera, easing him into the true question we’d wanted to ask the entire time.
“Are exorcisms a real thing and what do you think about them?”
He immediately looked upset and stared me down but gave us a clear and fun answer.
“That’s fucking bullshit. There’s no such thing as possession and there’s no such thing as a priest saying words to make that possession go away.”
Surprised, we took the video back with us, pieced it together with the prior reaction footage we had taken and presented everything at the science fair and funny enough, won the entire thing being asked to move on to the next level of the fair which we politely declined but these days wished I had pursued.
This had been my life for many years. Searching for an answer to something that a church attempted to hide for years.
Many, many years had gone by since then when I heard that The Exorcist was getting a television show. Like most I was excited but weary about something of this nature happening.
I was pleasantly surprised however once the show was actually released to the world. Instead of creating a televised remake of the film as I originally thought they would, they came up with a fresh new storyline, introducing new lead characters in Father Marcus and Father Thomas played by Ben Daniels and Alfonso Herrera respectively who both have intriguing back stories that continue to build throughout the second season and hopefully continue in season three if one is eventually confirmed.
Marcus has more of a secret past to be revealed as time progresses which is incredibly interesting but leaves out just enough detail to keep you guessing what else he has hiding allowing space for an air of mystery which leaves the character open to a array of roads they could potentially go down in order to assist in building the current and upcoming storylines. He’s also becoming my favorite character from a television series due to his confidence, cockyness and attitude all the while taking on his work with absolute seriousness and professionalism.
Thomas on the other hand is a younger man, a priest to a dilapidated church which is undergoing restorations thanks to some of those from his congregation providing him with generous donations and new to the idea of people needing to have demons exorcised from them. He has his fair share of personal demons that he must confront but he is a noble man who wants nothing more than to help anyone around him whenever possible. Together, with the assistance of Marcus, he beings to learn and understand the power and abilities he holds and how to use them when worse case scenarios, such as demonic possession, takes place.
Throughout the storyline, we see their development progress after being brought together by the Rance family, whom matriarch, Angela, played by Geena Davis, enlists Thomas’ assistance when she believes there is something sinister happening with her daughter. This brings Thomas to their home where he gains information from patriarch Henry Rance, portrayed by Alan Ruck, regarding where he could find Marcus.
The larger picture however is painted in the backstory which the writers geniously build what is to come for the future of the series, a plot involving some of the lesser background characters, lightly mentioned story arcs and the church itself that is fully revealed by the end of the second season and opens up a much larger and wonderful plot for future seasons which we will talk a little bit more about in our next review.
One of my biggest fears for the show was that they would use the films key scenes to try and get a ratings boosts or to have talk of the show make its way around. Otherwise, they only used most of the direct elements from the film as easter eggs for fans to recognise and enjoy.
The effects that the first season of this series had on me was not nearly as heavy as my original encounter with the movie but I was still able to get back that excitement of potential fear, almost like a “what if” regarding the show being able to scare the crap out of me like I was a child once again. With the amount of horror I absorb, it’s incredibly hard to find something that can truly make me nervous let alone scare me. Luckily, that feeling of nervousness was found watching it and I couldn't be happier about it.
As a suggestion, if you’ve not checked out The Exorcist series, I highly recommend you do. You may get a little bored at some portions of the first season, but I urge you to stick it through as it will be worthwhile not only for the season, but the storyline progression as a whole moving into season two.
Check back with us again next time as we will be doing a spoiler free review of season two and also talking about the potential future of the series
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