First Impressions

The Exorcist

Aired on: FOX

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                When I was a kid, probably a lot younger than I should have been, I watched a movie starring Ellen Burstyn, Max Von Sydow and Linda Blair called The Exorcist.  Based on a novel by William Peter Blatty, it told of two priests who set out to exorcise the demon possessing a young girl named Regan (Blair).  The special effects were amazing for its time and the soundtrack, especially the main theme entitled Tubular Bells, sent chills up your spine.  The film had such an impact on me, I even read the novel the film was based upon.  There have been many sequels and prequels to The Exorcist and even a reboot, but recently FOX announced it was turning The Exorcist into a television series.  I was immediately intrigued and knew I would have to check it out.

                The Exorcist television series, which debuted on September 23, 2016 at 9:00pm EST, features Alfonso Herrera as Father Tomas Ortega, a well-liked priest in a poor parish in Chicago.  Though his faith has been tested in the past, Father Tomas has stayed true to his vows and leads his flock by example.  He has befriended the Rances, a family besieged by sadness.  Patriarch Henry Rance (Alan Ruck) is recovering from a brain injury and daughter Katherine Rance (Brianne Howey) is recovering from a car accident in which she lost the love of her life.  Angela Rance (Geena Davis) is doing all she can to keep the family together with the help of her second daughter Casey (Hannah Kasulka).

                After a brief encounter with the family at Sunday mass, Father Tomas begins having very strange dreams in which he witnesses an unknown priest performing an exorcism on a young Mexican boy.  As the dreams progress daily, Father Tomas realizes that the exorcism failed.  Uncertain as to why he is being plagued by these nightmares, Father Tomas is unprepared for Angela Rance’s revelation that something demonic may be happening insider her home.  A visit proves that Angela’s youngest daughter may be possessed.

                After being dismissed by the Bishop, Father Tomas searches for the priest in his dreams and finally finds Father Marcus (Ben Daniels) in a home for “damaged” priests.  He persuades Father Marcus to help, but as the two try to ascertain just what is happening to Casey Rance, Father Marcus discovers that there is more than one demon at work here.  It could be that Chicago may be the focal point for a demonic plot that will begin a war between good and evil.

                I missed the debut of The Exorcist and some episodes following thanks to life and so, I decided to check out the debut episode On Demand.  Then I watched another.  By the time I was done, I had binge watched all three episodes available and still wanted more.  This is not a reboot of the original film, a prequel or a sequel.  The Exorcist television series is its own being based on the concept of the William Peter Blatty novel. 

                The characters are interesting and the storyline reels you in as you try to figure out what Casey’s demon is up to and why Father Tomas’ parish seems to have demons in abundance walking the streets.  Father Marcus alludes to some sort of sacrifice aimed at something much bigger, but I have no idea what that something might be and so I will have to watch more.  Perhaps the biggest draw of this series is not just the characters or the actors who portray them so brilliantly (amazing performances by Daniels, Kasulka and Herrera), but the scares.  The show is rather dark and so you find yourself leaning forward on the edge of your seat, peering into the television screen until the moments of horror that have you reeling backwards.  I had dumped some ice into the sink shortly before watching the first episode and found myself jumping as the ice shifted in the sink, so spooked was I.  And when Tubular Bells played – oh man, I jumped up, then laughed as I realized I was getting spooked by the same song that scared me so effectively as a child.

The Exorcist is a supernatural thriller/horror rollercoaster ride of a television series that I can’t seem to get enough of.  And so, I will be permanently ensconced in front of the television every Friday at 9pm EST to watch more.


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