There are three horror-themed TV shows that seem to be dominating internet conversation these days. The first two, understandably, are AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD which saw its triumphant and heart-wrenching return Sunday evening; and AMERICAN HORROR STORY which keeps on delivering a solid stream of “what-the-fucks” every episode. The final (and most surprising) breakout hit is FOX’s “THE EXORCIST” Which, to be totally honest, was something I completely disregarded as valid television immediately.
I tend to be a horror purist. While I can appreciate retellings, revampings, and reboots – I like to stick to the original materials. Groundbreaking horror is groundbreaking because it does just that; it breaks ground. It revolutionizes or completely redesigns how a certain subject matter is handled, a story is told, or a character is developed.
William Friedkin’s 1973 vomit-soaked opus, THE EXORCIST, has gone down in horror history as one of the scariest (and most well-made) horror films to grace the screen. Going beyond the film, the true-life basis of the unfortunate tale of Regan MacNeil is equally as frightening (for uber geeks, look up the demonic possession of Roland Doe AKA Robbie Mannheim and/or Annaliese Michel for some real life no-sleep stories). So, for me, when FOX announced their made-for-TV series of the same name I couldn’t help but completely write it off. My brain refused to acknowledge the notion that anything could affect me as much as the original film did. I didn’t want any part of it.
That said, this past Friday marked the debut of the series’ fifth episode of the season and when I woke up Saturday morning and peeled my face from my pillow, face smeared with the remnants of the previous night’s makeup and shame (I ate an entire pizza alone; it was embarrassing) I found that my social media feed was simply abuzz with talks of “THE EXORCIST.”
I was able to catch snippets of something; mentions of a major plot twist and exclamations of “I didn’t see that coming!” and “What?! No way! #TheExorcist #FridayFeeling #Instadaily.” And suddenly, I found myself interested.
So, I decided to take a gander at this revolutionary “Episode 5” and see what all the fuss was about despite not having seen episodes one through four. Because – who has time for all that, really? All I have to say is: “Holy Crap. I’m sold.”
**Spoilers for Episode 5 of FOX’s “THE EXORCIST” below**
I started off the episode legitimately having no idea what was going on. There was an attractive priest being all attractive and whatnot and an older woman who kind of resembled Kirstie Alley but with more work done talking about how she believed her daughter was possessed by something evil. There was another girl (presumably not the possessed daughter because she wasn’t restrained and whatnot) insisting that she wasn’t possessed and really needed professional help; clearly, she is the rational one. All of this seemed oddly familiar, and definitely harkened back to Friedkin’s original.
I was getting flashbacks to the hospital scene with Regan and her MRI and couldn’t help but mutter out loud, “That didn’t work 35 years ago and it’s not going to work now.”
Rather quickly, demonic business started happening and the poor afflicted girl began speaking in a guttural voice which, despite advances in modern technology, somehow managed to be less scary than the original.
(Sometimes, you really just need to hire an actress to chain smoke for six months prior to the role to really knock out that spooky demon dialogue.)
The majority of the episode revolved around making the painful decision as to what to do with the affected teenager, eventually coming to a heavy conclusion where several medical-type people came into the house to take her away, much to the despair of the poor girl’s hopeless mother.
While sure, this sequence did quite a bit to tug and my coal black heartstrings it wasn’t until the fine 45 seconds of the show did I find myself reeling and literally clapping my hands in support of the show.
The mother (who I came to know as Angela), in a very earnest conversation says: **BIGGEST SPOILER FOR EPISODE 5 OF “THE EXORCIST” DO NOT READ IF YOU’RE NOT CAUGHT UP**
“I reinvented myself, but it didn’t matter. No matter what I did. I chose Angela. Angel. Like a name would protect me. Then I dreamed I could have a life, a chance. It didn’t matter. It wasn’t done with me. It’s coming for me Father, I know it. My name is Regan MacNeil.”
And boom goes the dynamite.
I lost it. I yelled at the TV, I called my mother, I woke up my roommate because never in my wildest dreams did I think a network TV show would be as ballsy as to pull a move like that.
Needless to say, I sat there in front of my TV for 6 hours Saturday eagerly watching episode to episode.
FOX has done an amazing thing with their new interpretation (and continuation) of “THE EXORCIST.” It’s a work of art that needs to be appreciated and deserves the appreciation its’ received thus far.
We’ll be covering the remainder of the series each week here at Terror Time. If, like me, you allowed this miracle of a show to fly under your radar – it’s time to catch up. It’s going to be a crazy ride.
“THE EXORCIST” airs Fridays at 9PM/8PM central on FOX.
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FOX’s “The Exorcist”