People have been trying for a while now to get a TV version of The Exorcist off the ground - in a non-levitating manner - but it wasn't until the most recent attempt that it finally came together ahead of its upcoming Fox fall premiere. And this updated small screen take on the iconic horror film apparently won't be anything like the sequels, according to creator Jeremy Slater, who has a good idea of what kept some of those films from being as effective as the original. Here's how he put it.
The problem with all the sequels is that they were trying to duplicate the beats of the original film. We're conscious of that: We can't retell the same story. We can only make a show that you haven't seen before with new characters.
Now, perhaps some people out there would scoff at that kind of a remark, seeing as how a huge chunk of the horror genre is based on duplicating beats, but there's never anything wrong with standing out and being different. ("People in suits, have you ever considered the movie Cube, but with vampires and zombies and shit?") And I know that there are people out there who probably defend Exorcist II: The Heretic and the pair of fourth movies (Exorcist: The Beginning and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist), but they're definitely subpar in comparison, because they feel so much like derivative sequels. The Exorcist III, directed by William Peter Blatty (who also wrote the novels), comes the closest to the first film's non-genre approach to a horror theme, and Jeremy Slater told Deadline he thinks it's a good movie.
Rupert Wyatt, who directed the pilot, knows a little something about bringing a new mindset to an old story, which he did fantastically well with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. (He didn't write that, mind you, but his direction was also in stark contrast from past Apes films, so it's easy to think the same could be said here.) And as you can imagine, he looked back to The Exorcist's original director William Friedkin to further explain how the show isn't being crafted as your average spooky follow-up.
If you look at the original, Friedkin --- by way of his background and the films he was making at this time and coming from documentary filmmaking --- approached the subject matter as an agnostic, a non-believer. The subsequent films were more in the style of the genre.
Oddly, that somewhat clinical approach is what turns some horror fans off of The Exorcist. But in 2016, we've also been through another 40 years of possession horrors, so it's kind of hard to distinguish one's self from that crowd anyway. (Cinemax's Outcast is superb, though, if you're looking for something of that nature to get into now.) And if putting the brakes on the jump-scares and heightened orchestra music and elevating the dread in other ways is how Slater and Wyatt are bringing it with Fox's The Exorcist, then I'll be Pazu-zooming to my couch to watch it when it premieres.
Check out the latest trailer for the Geena Davis-starring series below.
The Exorcist will possess your attention span (Fox hopes) when it debuts on Friday, September 23, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see when everything else is coming to TV later this year, check out our fall premiere schedule.