Just How Similar Will Fox’s ‘The Exorcist’ Be To The Original?

If you’re a fan of cult classic The Exorcist, no doubt you’ve been keeping on top of Fox has dropped in preparation for its TV revamp later this year. No doubt too that like many of us, you wanted to be possessed with excitement and throw all reservations out the window faster than you could shout “Take me!” but instead have been left rather confused, still sitting firmly on the fence, and keeping a firm grasp on a question sheet that reads:

Q.1: What exactly is this TV show aiming to do? Q.2: How different will it be from the original? And, Q.3: Will it do its legacy justice?

Well, while we can’t answer those questions for you just yet, we can discuss what we know so far.

Firstly, as far as we’re all aware, the series takes inspiration from William Blatty’s 1971 novel The Exorcist and the ’73 iconic movie of the same name, but its premise “promises” to deviate from the narrative we all know so well. Here’s an excerpt from Fox’s press release:

Angela (Geena Davis) believes there is something in the house, a demonic presence, growing stronger by the day. Desperate, she begs Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) for help, unwittingly setting the naïve young priest on a collision course with Father Marcus (Ben Daniels). Separately, each faces an insurmountable task, but together they become the only hope against an evil force that has been mobilizing for centuries.

That doesn’t actually sound that different though, does it? And , we can’t help but notice a number of striking similarities between the two, which indicates more than just a nod to the cult classic. Below you’ll see all the promo clips released so far accompanied, with comparisons to the OG.

Like the original trailer, this one is smattered with shots of a young girl plagued with a possession far worse than any feral case of teenage hormones, though here it seems we’re dealing with a college student rather than a 12-year-old.

With the possession come the Catholic priests, and again they come in twos. However, unlike the original pairing of Father Karras and Father Merrin — who seem to know each other purely based on merit — the holy men in the TV series are united via a disturbing and prophetic dream sequence.

Then there’s the rat in the attic reference, a direct nod to the spooky scene in which the family matriarch, Chris, almost has her face burnt off by a temperamental candle.

Other similarities to note: Motherly intuition, tick. Demonic voices, tick. Tubular Bells, tick. Unexplained flying objects, tick.

First Promo Short: ‘It’s A Demon’

While it’s hard to grasp firm similarities within a 22-second short, the primary callback here hits us within the first two seconds: the shadowed outline of a man with a burning orange light behind him. Further into the clip, a panning shot shows him staring up at the unknown beast before him, much like the original cover pic:

via Warner Bros

via Warner Bros

Again, the shots are merged with themes discussed in the original trailer: mostly that of motherly intuition, the understanding that despite skeptic criticism she’s convinced her child is under the influence of something demonic and she’ll do anything to free her.

Second Promo Short : ‘Forgive Us Our Trespasses’

Firstly, the version of the Lord’s Prayer uttered in this second promo short is, as the title would suggest, “forgive us our trespasses.” Though I acknowledge this is a small similarity, it’s interesting to note, considering it’s the same version given in the original movie as opposed to the more common and updated “forgive us our debts.”

Within it’s 22-second run time though, we are given something new. There’s clearly something perturbing happening out of eye-shot in this scene — one would assume this priest has just stumbled upon our greasy, devil-ridden little friend here — yet the familiar growls of possession are accompanied by an element not featured in the ’70s version, one with a definite gross-out factor: flies. And I bet they’re coming out of her mouth. NOPE.

Third Promo Short: ‘Being Manipulated’

“You’re being manipulated by forces you can’t begin to understand.” No shit, Sherlock. Again we’re presented with a priest who seems to have seen this all before, paired with familiar ominous shots up to the attic and a child raising from a bed.

However, and correct me if I’m wrong, but the bed-levitating creature here does not look to be our young college student — could we be dealing with more than one case of possession?

Forth Promo Short: ‘Come To Me’

The latest promo to fall from the studio carries fewer direct links to the original but that’s mainly because it offers little in additional content. Its disarming lullaby-esque piano music juxtaposing with the breathless voice of prayer has the potential to be disturbing, but could fail to excite any die-hard fans.

All this said though, it’s undeniable that they’ve rallied together an outstanding cast that includes Oscar-winning actress Gene Davis, Alfonso Herrera, Ben Daniels, Alan Ruck, Brianne Howey, Hannah Kasulka and Kurt Egyiawan, so we’ll definitely be watching with an open mind.

Are homages to The Exorcist OG paid in all the right places? Or do you think Fox is taking on a beast bigger than it can handle? Discuss.

Fox’s The Exorcist hits screens September, 23.


Staff Writer at MP. Lover of bad puns, nostalgic feels and all things Winona.