Anghus Houvouras reviews the first episode of The Exorcist…
Talk about a haymaker.
While television is experiencing a golden age on cable and streaming services, network television has generally been nowhere near as stellar. While HBO, FX, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, AMC, USA, and other cable networks are delivering delicious four course meals, American Network Television is churning out junk food.
Mind you, not all junk food is bad. In moderation it can be quite enjoyable, like what The CW has done with the DC Comics adaptations. However, there are very few network television shows that compare with the best offerings of cable and streaming service. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t say The Exorcist may be the best network television offering this year: A tense, unsettling, and terrifyingly entertaining hour of prime time pulp.
Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) is a good-natured priest struggling with his role within the church. There are temptations and stresses of his past and present which weigh heavily upon his shoulders. Adding to his already full plate is a visit from Angela Rance (Geena Davis) who comes to Father Tomas believing that her house may contain a demonic presence.
There’s also the very troubling dreams he’s having of a rogue priest performing an exorcism in Mexico on a child with a very nasty presence twisting through his innards like Mephisto’s tapeworm. We learn a little bit about the Priest from his visions: Father Marcus (Ben Daniels) is the kind of fringe faithful who believes in demonic possession and fights a war with evil that many within his own faith find troubling.
The first episode, directed by Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) is almost the perfect pilot. The characters are well introduced, the narrative is quickly established, and the cast manages to make the supernatural, over the top elements feel very real. There’s so much peril in adapting something like The Exorcist to television. As we’ve seen with so may terrible exorcism movies in the last decade, the premise can quickly devolve into schlock. However, the first episode of Fox’s The Exorcist is a fantastic first step into this frightening world taking the best elements of the source material and crafting a serialized story that has me very much looking forward to the next episode.
Easily the biggest surprise of the new TV season and a must watch for horror fans.
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