TV Review: The Exorcist

The-Exorcist-FOX-TV-seriesCreator Jeremy Slater took on a behemoth by attempting to adapt the acclaimed horror film “The Exorcist” for the small, non-premium channel screen. The presentation keeps true to the inspiration of William Peter Blattey’s 1971 book, setting the story forty years after the movie’s events and moving the action to a crime-ridden Chicago.

Everyone seemed to love Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera). The parishioners at his church, although not wealthy, enjoyed his services. Higher church officials pointed to his charisma as a vehicle for his advancement within the faith. Indeed, all seemed to go well for the young man, yet he felt directionless and questioned his decisions. Worse, recurring nightmares placed him in a Mexican home with an unfamiliar Roman Catholic Priest who performed a tragic exorcism. One afternoon, parishioner Angela Rance (Geena Davis) begged Father Tomas for help with her daughter. Although she assured him of her sanity, she feared the girl was possessed by a demon.

“Every Soul is a battlefield.” So claims the series’ promotional tagline. However, demonic possession is just the beginning of the plot devices employed in “The Exorcist, the Series.” Combining elements of the original movie, aspects of “Rosemary’s Baby,” and a bit of a buddy-cop-type dynamic, the series presents interesting FX, good acting, and tense, dark cinematography in its ten episodes. Twists keep the plot from too much predictability as the narrative explores human fallibility and demonic incomprehension of love.

Through helping the Rance Family, including its brain-injured patriarch Henry (Alan Ruck) and daughters Casey (Hannah Kasulka) and convalescing ballerina Kat (Brianne Howey), Father Tomas encounters and works with the priest from his dream, the fierce exorcist-on-leave Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels). Father Marcus plays loose with the papal rules, which earns him a talking to by Father Bennet (Kurt Egyiawan), who is also a true bad butt and champion of the papacy, and an ex-communication.

The Fathers discover subversion and plots within the church and “stand in the doorway” to push back the oncoming darkness not only for the Rance family, but also for greater Chicago and the world. Occult scholars, a cloister of nuns, and a surprise visit from a believed-dead grandmother provide assistance, and the Rance family realizes to face subversion and evil, they needed to help each other.

The series is nominated for awards by ihorror, Fanforia, ASCA, and People’s Choice. At this date, Fox has not signed for a second season. However, in an interview with Dominic Patten from Deadline.com, the series creator Jeremy Slater explained, “…we’ve created a big and exciting world with a mythology that we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of…”

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