Talk to any horror fan and they will probably tell you that 1973’s The Exorcist is one of the scariest movies of all time, even to this day. It was the first horror movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar because it wasn’t just that it was terrifying — it was visceral while being emotional. It doesn’t just give you the creeps, it gets under your skin, and it reaches your core. And production-wise, it’s a beautifully shot movie. So, is it a bad idea to turn it into a 10-part TV series, exploring each part of William Peter Blatty‘s story in even more detail, then going beyond it? I don’t know, folks, I think this remake might not be all that bad of an idea. Especially considering the people making it.
Those people, Sean Durkin, who wrote and directed the critically-loved indie Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Roy Lee, an executive producer of The Ring and The Departed, are directing and producing this Exorcist series, respectively, and in my opinion, I think the story’s in pretty good hands. Martha Marcy May Marlene follows the story of a young woman (played by Elizabeth Olsen) who escapes from a cult, traumatized, and tries to adjust to regular life while slowly realizing she’s a bit further gone than she’d thought. And The Ring, starring Naomi Watts, was an American remake of the Japanese Ringu, both of which are supremely creepy movies. (Seriously — movies don’t scare me. The Ring scares me.) So, I have a lot of faith in Durkin and Lee’s ability to take on The Exorcist. It’s also being backed by Morgan Creek, which has been seemingly specializing in the horror genre, having most recently produced Dream House, the remake of The Thing, and two Exorcist movies in 2004 and 2005. (Blatty referred to his viewing of 2004’s Exorcist: The Beginning as his “most humiliating professional experience.” He did, however, like 2005’s Dominion: The Prequel to The Exorcist.)
By turning the movie into a 10-part series — which, with that relatively small amount of episodes, could conceivably get the budget to have the same cinema-worthy quality as AMC‘s The Walking Dead — there will be a lot more time spent with the various players in the story of The Exorcist. You know, the kind of stories that sequels and prequels try to tackle, but can rarely be told as well as the original, and often without the original actors, writers, directors, etc. I submit to you the Psycho movies as evidence. But this will be a solid, 10-episode block of shows that, according to Vulture, will delve into the events leading up to Reagan MacNeil’s possession and how her family deals with the incident after it’s all over. And remember, the story doesn’t only concern the MacNeils — the movie starts with Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) wondering whether or not he should continue the priesthood while he watches his mother succumb to illness. And even before that, we’re seeing the more ancient elements of demonic possession in an archaeological dig in the Middle East — there could be an entire hour about that, and that’s kind of exciting.
I feel like, if given the proper time, consideration, effort, and budget, this could be a seriously wicked series, and the abbreviated, limited nature of it doesn’t give me the kind of agita that a regular TV series about The Exorcist would have given me. There will be a beginning, a middle, and an end, and then it will be wrapped up. But we’ll just get to see more than we did in the movie, which might make this a very cool companion.
Just no sequels or prequels once it’s over, though.