TV is the new film. The birth of online channels such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have opened up new avenues for TV programmes, creating bigger, better shows and grabbing larger and more diverse audiences. This has been great news for horror fans as not only do we get brand-spanking new awesome shows such as Stranger Things, American Horror Story and the eagerly anticipated Lucifer, but there has also been a massive rise in horror films being adapted into TV shows, such as Sleepy Hollow, Hannibal and the brilliant Bates Motel. Now we are getting the ultimate, the daddy of all horror… The Exorcist TV Show.
I watched The Exorcist film as a young girl with my parents and a friend. We giggled at the sexual references, fidgeted through the “boring talking bits” but were ultimately silenced by Regan’s transformation from young girl to demon. I couldn’t sleep that night. The film crept into my very soul and chilled me to the bone.
As a grown up I can now watch it alone and sleep like a baby but it hasn’t lost any of its power. It is terrifying, there has never been an equal and it is adamantly my dad’s all time favourite film (good taste runs in the family).
So I was luckily enough to get a sneak preview of The Exorcist TV show, Chapter 1 and let my cry come unto thee. I grabbed my boyfriend, turned off the lights and huddled down, waiting… and I was not disappointed.
A mother, Angela (Geena Davis) is convinced there is something in her house trying to “take” her daughter, Kat (Brianne Howey). She consults with her local priest, Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) about a possible possession, whilst he is battling his own demons, namely dreaming about Father Marcus (Ben Daniels) carrying out a deadly exorcism on a young boy in Mexico.
The audience spend this first episode trying to figure out if Angela is crazy or the daughter is possessed or just out of sorts due to losing a friend in a car accident. And just when you think you’ve figured it out, you get thrown a whopping curve ball that completely throws you and is the highlight, and scariest moment, of the episode.
The TV show is very different to the film. Notably it is set in Chicago, there is a family of four, including a dad and another daughter. Both daughters are in their teens, the mum isn’t an actress, etc. I think more characters have been added to help plump out the story a little, it will last for a dozen or so episodes after all. Or maybe they wanna be able to bump a few off?
There were stand out performances from Alfonso and Ben (who is my favourite character – so damaged and broken yet brilliant). I’m really looking forward to seeing their relationship develop. I was also very excited to see Geena Davis on the cast list, but so far she hasn’t really been given much to do except her The Sixth Sense-type moment (“It’s trying to take my daughter!”). And I’m delighted that Alan Ruck is playing the dad (of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off fame).
After only one chapter, I find myself riddled with questions:
- Who is Jessica?
- What is wrong with Henry, Angela’s husband?
- Angela says she has 400 employees – what is her job?
- What is Father Tomas’ connection to Father Marcus? Does he have visions? Or dreams? Or are these memories? Or is he being manipulated by demons or spirits?
There were a couple of things I didn’t like… The exorcism of the young Mexican boy was messed up (in a good way) with his bloody spitting of teeth, but (continuity error alert) later his teeth reappeared. I also thought the end shock was a bit of a cheap shot – I personally would have preferred a slow build.
The episode closed on Father Marcus donning his now trademarked black hat & heading out into the night; a potential saviour for the family. Then the title music started up… and a chill ran down my spine… bring on chapter 2!
By Catherine Dunn (@toodamncat)
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