The Exorcist (FOX) pilot preview: One more useless nauseating remake nobody asked for

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Pilot “And Let Me Cry Come Unto Thee” written and executive produced by Jeremy Slater (The Lazarus Effect, Fantastic Four 2015). Based on William Blatty. Directed by Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Gambler). Also executive produced by James Robinson (Ace Ventura, Robin Hood, True Romance), David Robinson (Dream House, Two for the Money) & Barbara Wall (Century City). For FOX, 20th Century FOX Television & Morgan Creek Productions. 64 pages.

Description: Two very different men of faith, Father Thomas Ortega and Father Marcus Lang, tackle one family’s case of horrifying demonic possession and confront the face of true evil…

With Alfonso Herrera (Sense8), Geena Davis (Grey’s Anatomy, Commander in Chief, Thelma & Louise, The Fly), Ben Daniels (Flesh and Bone, House of Cards), Camille Guaty (Scorpion, Prison Break, The Nine), Brianne Howey, Kurt Egyawan, Melissa RussellHannah Kasulka (The Fosters), Alan Ruck (Spin City)…

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It’s a constant for quite some time now: cult horror movies turned into TV series never work. Have you seen Damien, based on The Omen? Even Lifetime didn’t want it and left it to A&E. Horrendous. Have you seen NBC’s version of Rosemary’s Baby? One big pile of shit. Bates Motel is the exception. This show is pretty decent. Or at least was at the beginning. Hannibal? Very good series, but dismal ratings. In fact, even 100% original shows dealing with horror can’t find an audience: 666 Park Avenue, Scream Queens… It’s just not broad enough and not everything can be American Horror Story. Networks learned it the hard way. In the light of these simple facts, why did FOX order The Exorcist reboot to pilot? It’s beyond me. I just don’t get it. We know they are still looking for shows with preexisting name recognition (even if Minority Report flopped hard), but why betting on this one? They are heading towards another huge disappointment if they pick it up to series, which they would be crazy to.

Let’s be honest: The Exorcist is almost nothing for the new generation. Either they haven’t seen it or they didn’t like it. 40 years later, what was bold and disturbing at the time feels comical and boring. Remember. “Stick your cock up her ass, you motherfucking worthless cocksucker.” I guess we became too vulgar to be impressed by such a sentence. For older people, The Exorcist is a movie you can’t just play with. It’s THE classic horror movie. A masterpiece. I don’t even see them tuning in to see how it looks now. They won’t be this curious. So, I really don’t know who this series is made for. If it was for FX, or another cable outlet, why not? But for FOX (a network that doesn’t even air at 10)? Doesn’t make sense. You won’t get any “cock” or “motherfucker”, or other terrible words in the mouth of our new demon (the network version of the movie was censored by the way). She’s nicer than that, it seems. They won’t be able to do something very graphic either. There are limits on networks you just can’t ignore. Maybe that’s why they describe the show as a propulsive, serialized psychological thriller, instead of a horror one. There are maybe two scenes of real horror, where you’re supposed to see scary things like the famous head that rotates 360 degrees, but I’m pretty sure FOX will have to cut them heavily before airing the whole thing. Please note there’s no exorcism performed in the pilot, that could explain why it doesn’t go that far. For now.

There’s nothing much left from the novel/movie. They just took the name, a story that vaguely resembles it and made it a TV show. They insist on the family drama at the center, where Geena Davis, as the mother of the possessed, can do great things. And I have to say this part of the show is interesting. Depressing too. But at least you know it’s not gonna be ridiculous with such an actress. Then you got strange scenes in rural Ethopia, from Father Marcus Lang’s past. Those are, on the contrary, almost ridiculous. It’s all about weird screams and wild animals. It’s too cliché. Most of the pilot is about the daily life of Father Thomas Ortega, our real hero here, the chosen one. Depressing too. He’s very alone, except when he takes care of his sister’s son. It’s dark and painful. And gloomy. And austere. As you can imagine. Those characters are lifeless, even though none of them are supposed to be dead. I’m not saying the pilot is badly written or totally uninteresting, but it’s not engaging, appealing. Unless you are looking for a good reason to commit suicide. And most of all, it doesn’t make an hour long weekly TV series! A 2-hour movie? Yes. A 4-hour mini-series? Workable. But more than that? Nope. I certainly don’t see what FOX saw in it. To me, there’s no potential for a series there, either good bad or bad.

The Exorcist TV series doesn’t belong to FOX, or any other network. It’s just as simple as that. And I don’t believe in the theme of exorcism as something that could work on television. Exorcists are not the new vampires or new zombies. Sorry folks! A better (but not perfect) option is Robert Kirkman’s Outcast, coming to Cinemax in a few weeks (Read the preview). This remake nobody asked for is just useless and nauseating, since it doesn’t even pay a real hommage to the novel/movie. Why bother? I definitely prefer “sucking cocks in Hell” than watching this.

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