It channels the chills of the original
Let’s face it, The Exorcist has a bit too much baggage for its own good. That title alone conjures up all the countless parodies and mickey-takes (from French and Saunders to Family Guy) that have been a part of pop culture for decades. Well, rest assured, within seconds of the first episode, you’ll be forgetting all those green puke-splattered comedy sketches, because this series takes its source material VERY seriously.
In the very first scene you’ll see a recreation of the most iconic shot from the movie, with the silhouette of a priest in a dark hat looking up at a lit window in the dead of night. And when you first hear the familiar, bone-chilling sound of Tubular Bells, that’ll be the cue for every single hair on your neck to stand to attention.
It’s a terrifying new take on the story
You know what would have been truly scary, in a bad way? A straight remake/reboot of the original. That would have sucked more vigorously than a gateway to Hell. Wisely, this series goes its own way.
Yes, the basic set-up is similar. There’s a young girl coming under the influence of dark forces. There’s a terrified mum. And there are two priests – one a newbie exorcist, the other a traumatised veteran of the war against Satan – who have to join forces. But this is most definitely NOT the Regan MacNeil exorcism of the film. In fact, Regan is referenced in a very quick, teasing moment, which confirms this is a (sort-of) sequel, set in the same universe. Speaking of which…
There’s some seriously creepy world-building
The Exorcist series is ambitious. It’s not just about the possession of one girl. That’s just the starting point for a sprawling saga of good versus evil, chronicling a diabolical assault on humanity by mysterious forces.
This is hinted at in the first episode, when one of our heroic priests finds himself manipulated by creepy strangers, and by nerve-jangling visions, into following a certain path. There are also hints that there’ll be more possessions, sudden killings, and conspiracies involving the Catholic church. So prepare to immerse yourself in all this world-building.
There are scares scattered everywhere
Here’s a tip – don’t watch The Exorcist while holding any hot liquids, because you WILL spill some on your lap whenever it throws an unexpected moment of all-out horror at you. We don’t want to spoil anything, but there are a few moments in the first episode which will basically make you emit such sounds as “Craaargh!”, “Argg!”, and quite possibly “I will never sleep again”.
One scene involves a crow. We’ll say that much. Plus there’s also a bit in an attic which rivals the infamous “spider walk” scene from the original movie in terms of sheer uncanny creepiness. Oh, and you know the iconic “head twisting around” thing which has been played for laughs by about a zillion parodies? You’ll never think of it as funny again.
It has great, and greatly disturbed, actors
The biggest name in The Exorcist is Geena Davis, and if ever fear was written on a person’s face, it’s written on Geena Davis’s. Playing the mum whose house has become a playground for awful, unseen things, she’s so convincingly spooked (all bulging eyes and trembling lips) that you’d swear she’s had a method-acting weekend in Hell in preparation for the role.
We also have British star Ben Daniels putting in an unnervingly twitchy performance as Father Marcus Keane, an unstable priest whose mind has been shredded by previous exorcisms, and carries a massive semi-automatic with him just to be one the safe side. But the real star is the relatively unknown Alfonso Herrera, who has the charisma of a young Antonio Banderas. A man you’d definitely be glad to have on your side when battling against a snarling demon-ghoul in your spare bedroom…
The Exorcist starts on Wednesday 19th October at 9pm on Syfy, and is also available after broadcast in Catch Up.
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