Review: ‘The Exorcist’ Sequel Series Is Plagued By The Demons Of Network Television

The Exorcist FOX show Ben Daniels 

“What a wonderful day for an exorcism.”

… if only it were a wonderful day for the newest horror series possessing our DVRs.

Hesitation over Fox’s "The Exorcist" has run rampant among horror fans since the network ordered a pilot back in January. And even the casting of Oscar-winner Geena Davis couldn’t prevent speculation that a for-network-television adaption of William Peter Blatty’s novel of the same name wouldn’t be able to scare audiences anywhere near the vomit-inducing 1973 film, also of the same name.

And I’m here to tell you that the fanatics were right… sort of.

To give you a brief synopsis of the newly updated story, which is most definitely a sequel to the movie, Exorcist tells an eerily familiar tale. A wealthy, not-very-religious mother (Davis) turns to a local priest, Sense8 hottie Alfonso Herrera, because she thinks a demon has taken ahold of her recently-back-from-college daughter. Making matters worse is the fact that Davis’ husband, Cameron Frye Alan Ruck, is battling with dementia. And even though said priest is having an identity crisis of his own, he reluctantly agrees to try and help the family in crisis.

Bored yet?

The Exorcist FOX show Geena Davis Alan Ruck

That’s about as interesting as it gets when it comes to the first 55 minutes of the series premiere. A pilot that’s made ludicrous because of how quickly Geena’s character decides her daughter must be possessed. There are some typical exorcism moments sprinkled throughout, that serve to hold your attention, but it’s sort of worrisome that these rituals are being presented almost exactly as they were 46 years ago: an exhausted priest yelling at a restrained, deformed child while objects float all around them.

The great thing this show has going for it is the cast. Davis, Herrera, and Ruck are all in prime form, in addition to Ben Daniels who does a nice job filling in the Father Merrin-sized hole left by Max von Sydow. The bad thing is the stories’ lack of innovation in visualizing the terror.

With shows like Bates Motel, Hannibal, and Ash vs. Evil Dead, the bar is HIGH for a project like "The Exorcist". Those adaptations have broken new ground for sequel and prequel series, even proving that they can be just as good, if not better, than the film properties that made them household names. That being said, Bates, Hannibal, and Ash all benefit from shortened seasons.  If Fox plans on making Exorcist last anywhere close to 20 episodes a year, it really needs try and give viewers some tangible reason to keep watching.

The Exorcist FOX show Alfonso Herrera

There is one good reason to watch the first episode through until the end, and potentially to tune back in the following week. Spoiling that moment wouldn’t be good for any of us, but it is entertainingly disturbing and the perfect homage to Linda Blair’s iconic performance.

If only the entire episode were as exciting. Then we’d be having a different conversation.

"The Exorcist" premieres Friday, September 23rd on Fox.

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