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The Exorcist Pilot

Created by: Jeremy Slater
Starring: Geena Davis, Alfonso Herrera, Ben Daniels

The Exorcist has been called on the scariest movies of all time, and it is, but not for everyone. Often this generation of horror film fans expects fast paced storytelling and cgi so the slow precise pace of The Exorcist comes off as boring to them. They can’t settle in and let the tense creepy and disturbing atmosphere of that film wash over them. With that very common knowledge in mind credit has to be given to Fox for trying to bring that slow burn sense of dread to their new serialized television series based on the original film.

This series appears to be taking the story of the original film and expanding it to 13 episodes. As in the original film the story set up here is a girl in an upscale home appears to be possessed by a demon. A Priest, Father Tomas is asked for help. At the same time Tomas is having dreams where he sees into the world of another Priest trying to save a young boy from a demon possession. The pieces are coming together for these two Priests to swoop in and save the day, maybe.

One major serialized element is whether the girl is actually possessed or more realistically dealing with trauma from a car accident. An additional serialized element, something new to the franchise, comes at the end of the episode and promises to play largely in the series.

Overall the pilot offers a mixed bag of positives and negatives. The positives are the performances. The entire cast offers solid performances led by Geena Davis as the concerned mother and Alfonso Herrera and Father Tomas. Ben Daniels plays Father Marcus Keane, a character only in a few scenes in this episode but a central figure in the series. The negatives come from the horror elements. While the show does attempt to build a tense dark atmosphere similar to the original film the series isn’t as courageous as that classic film. The creators feel the need to slap in some really horrible jump scares that just don’t fit this kind of story. Also, the actual scenes of demonic possession and exorcisms are textbook. The series, at least so far, brings nothing new to this subgenre of horror.

The Exorcist deviates from expanding on an existing universe to treading water within it. The great performances and the potential for a slow burn horror story, spread across 13 episodes, make this show worth revisiting at least for a couple more episodes. As the characters are further developed and the horror more realized we may look back at this “set up” episode more positively. Also, when the score from the film kicks in, chills…

6.5/10

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