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Fox is definitely hoping that audiences will be more possessed by its next movie-to-TV adaptation than they were by Minority Report. The network is being compelled by the powers that be to bring the iconic horror movie and novel The Exorcist back as a serialized thriller, and the pilot has just filled another one of the leading roles with quite a recognizable name: Geena Davis.
Like its namesakes, this Exorcist will center largely on a family being terrorized by a demonic possession, as well as the two starkly different men who come together to help the family rid themselves of the evil. Within this modernized narrative, Davis has taken the role of matriarch Angela Rance, whose stiff upper lip is trembling beneath the weight of the stress currently holding her down, according to Variety. Despite keeping her positivity and her faith at admirably high levels, Angela is in danger of succumbing to her family’s struggles, and she believe that she may have something to do with everything that’s going wrong. You see, she’s been having nightmares about a demon, and…
Well, that’s all it takes, really.
Angela Rance sounds like quite a different person from Chris MacNeil, the fractured mother in the film played by Ellen Burstyn. Both in terms of faith – Chris was a non-believer – and personality. Chris wasn’t a hardcore bitch or anything, but she wasn’t someone that seemed like she’d win a prize for Good Mood of the Year. I’m all for change-ups if it means this won’t feel like an exact retread of anything Exorcist-related that has come out in the past.
Now the rest of the cast: Davis’ daughter Charlotte, seemingly taking the place of the Reagan role made iconic by Linda Blair, will be played by Scream Queens recurrer Brianne Howley. She’ll make her mark as a former ballet dancer who got into a terrible accident and has since holed herself up in her room, which has her mother scared she might be guided by demons. The Fosters’ Hannah Kasulka will play her worrisome sister Casey. Other cast members include Sense8 star Alfonso Herrera, who plays the kindhearted and empathetic Father Tomas, and Flesh and Bone’s Ben Daniels, who’s set to star as the God-fearing holy roller Father Marcus.
The Exorcist pilot was written by Fantastic Four scribe Jeremy Slater, who also penned the largely forgettable 2015 horror The Lazarus Effect, so I’m not sure how excited to be about this, even with Geena Davis involved. Luckily, Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt will be behind the camera for it, so there’s a chance it’ll at least look good.
Though she’s mostly known for big screen roles in movies from the 1980s and 1990s such as Thelma and Louise and Beetlejuice, Geena Davis has been busier on TV than in films in the past decade, starting with a lead role in the short-lived drama Commander in Chief. Last year, she had a notable arc on Grey’s Anatomy and made an appearance on the Amazon Original children’s show Annedroids.
Extending horror franchises is all the rage these days, from Starz’s awesome Ash vs Evil Dead to A&E’s Omen follow-up Damien and beyond. Will The Exorcist get to the point where it can be compared to such series? We’ll just have to wait and find out.