More of a creepy mystery than a full blown horror story, FOX’s new take on The Exorcist isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel but more interested in telling a subdued story that will leave you with a few questions and maybe a few jumps. Thankfully not recreating the original 1973 film, this adaptation instead wisely chooses to only pull elements from the original story to help with it’s basic structure.
When churchgoing matriarch Angela Rance, played by the always terrific Geena Davis, suspects her troubled daughter of demonic possession she chooses to meet with her local priest, Father Tomas, to see what can be done. The problem here is that we don’t have much reason to suspect this to be the case. Other than some awkward encounters in the home, her eldest daughter seems to simply be in mourning following a car crash that killed one of her friends. Alfonso Herrera’s Tomas however just might be coming around to the idea after some intense visions lead him on a trail to priest and exorcist Father Marcus (Ben Daniels), himself a troubled man who is struggling to overcome a failed exorcism months prior.
Through Marcus and Tomas’ experiences we know that there is no denying the demonic element that’s going to push the story, but it seems clear even this early that that’s not what’s going to keep people coming back to the show. In 2016 it’s almost impossible for this new show to rock the horror world the way the original film did over 40 years ago. Instead it will be our connection to the Rance family and the hero priests that will likely be bringing us back each week to see the story unfold. Herrera in particular impressed as he brings a relatable feel to his young priest who is struggling with his own beliefs as Tomas tries to save this family.
Horror on television is always a tricky task and while the Exorcist succeeds in introducing a somewhat compelling story, it’s had a rocky start bringing the scares. Excluding some trick jump scares and a twist at the end, the premiere episode builds a feeling of tenseness that doesn’t quite deliver. Time will tell how scary this show can become but in the meantime the drama surrounding the struggles of the Rance family will have to be enough.