At the end of September, Fox unveiled its new series The Exorcist – just in time for Halloween. After watching the classic 1973 horror movie, to think that there would be a spin-off television series would be improbable, but with the number of sequels made, not impossible. However, it’s about half way through the first season, and the pieces are starting to fall into place.
The Exorcist television show was written to be similar, but not the same as, the movie because, like the movie, it is based off the book The Exorcist written by William Peter Blatty. Each episode in this season so far is presented as a chapter, or a version of a chapter, from the book. And with the passing of time and the evolution of technology since 1973, The Exorcist has met and surpassed the new standards for graphics and intensity, only escalating the fear felt by audiences.
In The Exorcist film, the story focuses on two priests and a possessed young girl, Regan MacNeil. Spoiler alert! In the movie, there is an older priest who is a professional exorcist and a younger local priest who are both called to perform an exorcism after modern medicine fails to cure this young girl. Eventually, both the older and younger priest die after performing a successful exorcism. However, the television show has depicted the two priests as close in age. The show also focuses on the priests’ experiences and partnership as they work together, helping another possessed young girl, Casey Rance.
The mother of Casey Rance, Angela Rance, requested the priests’ help after hearing voices in her house and detecting the signs that she remembered when she became possessed. PLOT TWIST: Angela Rance is actually Regan MacNeil from The Exorcist movie. After her possession, Angela Rance had been taken on tour throughout the country after her mother, actress Chris MacNeil, wrote a book on the possession. Chris MacNeil’s acting career failed after word of her daughter’s possession got out. So, Chris capitalized on Regan’s possession in any way because she couldn’t find work or make any money.
Angela felt that her mother had exploited her traumatic experience and ran away, changing her name and starting a new life. Her mother spent years and several private detectives only to be told by Angela to get out of her life forever. It wasn’t until Chris saw a story on the internet describing her granddaughter’s possession did she try to reenter her daughter’s life. Angela aggressively objected her mother’s involvement, but her husband, Henry Rance, whom she never revealed her former life to, refuses to let Angela make the decision after being lied to for years. Even their other daughter, Katherine Rance, reluctantly welcomes Chris into the home because they truly need her help. The question is now, does the demon want Casey, or has it come back with a vendetta for Angela?
The T.V. version of The Exorcist also goes beyond the possession of one teenage girl and starts to address the presence of demons throughout certain areas, reinforcing the occult theory that more demons inhabit larger cities. The overall concept of exorcisms and the existence of demons has shifted into more of an occult practice as it is still questioned by many, including those in the church. Different stories of evil spirits, hauntings, ghosts, etc. tend to discredit any serious reports of demonic possession and so have advancements in medicine.
Exorcism is no longer generally practiced. In the Catholic Church, it is required to have at least one priest trained in exorcisms in each diocese. The Catholic Church also notes that possession is rare and is most often a medical or mental illness. Throughout history, it can be easily assumed that numerous people have been ‘exorcised’ under misconstrued medical symptoms because the people of that time did not know any better.
Half way through the exorcism, Casey’s sister Katherine Rance calls the police because she feels that all Casey needs is proper medical attention. But once Casey is in the police’s custody as they take her to the hospital, she crashes the ambulance the officers have put her in. Then, Casey kills all the police and medical attendants before running away and disappearing, obviously displaying signs of paranormal abilities rather than a health or mental issue.
Whether you believe in demons and exorcism or not, The Exorcist makes a good case for their legitimate presence. To indulge in some of the mystical machinations: In the first episode, Casey says, “Where there’s one, there’s probably a whole bunch,” and we’re hoping to see just that from The Exorcist.