Review: ‘Exorcist’ Masterfully Acted Pilot Reels Viewers In

The Exorcist pilot is deftly and lays some compelling groundwork for the first season. For the team behind this series to pull this off in the manner that they did, speaks to how much time and effort that went into launching this series. This show is already going to have it’s collection of hardcore horror fans who will be comparing the series to the 1973 film but engaging in this type of activity would be foolish, to say the least. The Exorcist is a smart slow-burning narrative whose interest isn’t in providing the audience an immediate payoff but reeling viewers in for the duration.

Geena Davis plays Angela Rance, a mother concerned that her house is possessed and believes that one of her daughters, Kat (Brianne Howley), might be as well. Rance is met with skepticism from her priest Thomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrea) because at this point he’s never seen one. After the meeting with Rance, he starts having dreams of another priest (played by Ben Daniels) and an exorcism in Mexico City, Mexico. Father Ortega starts investigating the priest and how he can help with what’s occurring in the Rance house.

While basing the foundation for the show on the original film is a smart move, one can’t help but wonder if it was the right movie. Show’s like Damien (on A&E) and Rosemary’s Baby (NBC) floundered in the ratings but this show could very well be the exception. Genna Davis brings a certain “star” power to the series to boost ratings, and she is tremendous in the pilot.

For the horror fans who are skeptical that Fox isn’t going to allow The Exorcist television series to reach its full potential, I can tell you right now that there are two scenes in the pilot that will cause your jaw to drop. One of them involves a crow and a church window that will be a source of controversy. The other scene takes place during the exorcism in Mexico City where we see a possessed eight-year boy contort in such a way that will leave you speechless.

The person to watch in this show is Brianne Howley. She was crafty with the possession; Howey gave little hints or clues as to her mental well being. At dinner, instead of showing compassion towards her father (played by Alan Ruck) who is ill, out of nowhere, she slightly (and I do mean slightly) changes her tone and openly mocks him in front her family. This approach continues throughout the pilot until the last three minutes. You know what’s about to occur yet are still frightened by what happens.

The Exorcist pilot is a good example of how to launch a series. Let’s just hope it finds it’s target audience.

Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.

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