The Exorcist purists, FOX’s reboot is for you. The executive producers of the horror drama series promise to do right by the iconic film franchise upon which it is based. The show will take place four years after the Georgetown exorcisms in the movies instead of trying to replace the original movies.
“It was important to have those nods and homages to the original films that fans are going to be looking for,” creator/executive producer Jeremy Slater told the room of reporters at the 2016 Summer TCA press tour. “It was important to let everyone know that this is a continuation of that existing story. We want to do justice to the legacy of The Exorcist.”
According to both Slater and executive producer/director Rupert Wyatt, they made sure they weren’t just retelling the same story presented in the movies. This new venture should be fresh for longtime fans.
“I think The Exorcist 3 gets a bad rap,” Slater said. “Is it as good as the original, no, because nothing is as good as the original. The problem with the sequels is that the sequels tried to duplicate the beats of the original film. We can’t retell the same story. We can’t remake the same show you’ve seen before. The only way you can succeed is telling a new story with new characters.”
But expect the mythology of the “evil” at the heart of The Exorcist to be on a much bigger scale in the FOX series. Slater continued, “The basic idea is that this time around, evil has grander ambitions than just targeting one eight-year-old girl in Georgetown. By the time you get a few episodes in, you see how this can be a show that runs for eight seasons.”
And that also means balancing out the spooks and the scares with the more emotional stories of the characters to ensure longevity of the series.
“People won’t tune in week after week for gore or scares or shock value. People tune in for stories about characters,” Slater said. “You need the propulsive twists and turns and we have plenty of plot twists coming this season.”
Those twists include new ways to scare the audience in an updated, modern way. “There have been 40 years of inferior imitations coming along to dilute the source material,” Slater said. “We have a lot of horror fans behind the scenes who can point out if that’s been done before, etcetera. There have been images used in the public conscience so much that they lose the shock they once had. It forces you to be better writers and creators and come up with new scares. We’ve been learning a lot about what works for TV and what doesn’t.”
Star Geena Davis also weighed in on the horrors of the new series, which clearly hasn’t been giving her too many nightmares.
“I don’t get spooked by stuff that I know we’re just faking,” Davis said. “I don’t get impacted in those kinds of ways. But I love scary stuff and I love being a part of it. I love horror movies. I love scary movies. The Exorcist curled my hair. I saw it as a teenager and was scarred for life. It’s the best horror movie, I think most people would agree.”
But according to Wyatt, the subject matter of the series actually is based on real life events, as the producers actually got in contact with the Catholic Church to talk with Exorcists. They were met with a “stony silence” from the Church, but one priest did meet with them in secret… although he wouldn’t confirm to being an exorcist himself. “It goes on, it’s very much a part of the modern Catholic Church,” Wyatt said. “For a long time it was considered a dirty secret of the Catholic Church and they tried to bury it.”
Oddly enough, that sounds fairly appropriate for this series.
The Exorcist premieres Sept. 23 on FOX. Will you be tuning in as a longtime fan of the original, or a franchise newbie?