We are possessed by wave of demons and Roman Catholic demonbusters at present moment. What with E4’s new series Crazyhead premiering on Wednesday evening (19 October) and Eureka’s reissue of Rupert Wainwright’s fabulous Stigmata (1999 review here) interest in demonic possession seems to be at an all time high. However Crazyhead has a serious US rival in the UK’s Wednesday at 9pm slot with Syfy’s The Exorcist.
I have to admit I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out turning William Friesdkin’s classic adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s tale of a possessed 12-year-old into a long running series. Fortunately that particular problem has been solved by largely ignoring it, which to me was no problem as, confession time, I never really liked the original movie that much to begin with.
In episode one Let My Cry Come Unto Thee we are introduced to the main characters a pair of priests; the Hispanic Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) who administers to a down at heel parish in Chicago and Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) from the north of England (hurrah). Tomas is a modern kind of priest running programmes to help the homeless and generally turning his parish around. So when Angela Rance (Geena Davis) comes to him concerned that her daughter Kat (Brienne Howey) might be possessed he suggests the problem is psychiatric.
Marcus on the other hand is all washed up living in the St Aquinas Home for disturbed priests (OK once I got over some Father Ted induced giggles I was OK with that) after an exorcism went wrong in Mexico City. Only when in a rare moment of lucidity, Kat’s brain-damaged father mentions Father Marcus to Tomas does Tomas suspect there might be something more to this demonic possession malarky. Needless to say after an initial visit from Tomas, Marcus absconds from St Aquinas and the pair forge an uneasy relationship as more spooky stuff happens in the Rance household. And did I mention that Angela is on a committee welcoming a Papal visit to Chicago?
Well so far the series seems to be shaping up well as a Buddy/Buddy Demon busting runner. Camera work, music and lighting are all nice and moody. The effects and prosthetics are everything you would expect from a high budget chiller and the writing is intelligent and believable. There is a nice dynamic emerging between the gruff troubled but experienced Marcus and the clearly out of his depth Tomas. Having already seen episode two I can tell you it only gets more interesting with additional storylines and more regular characters settling in with the scene being set for what looks like a killer finale at season end. And although no references as yet to the sexual preferences of Hellbound Priest’s mother’s there has been some projectile vomiting.
So a promising start to the series which has left me wanting to see more on the basis of two episodes I give The Exorcist TV series a 555/666
For a British take on this kind of subject look out the BBC TV series Apparitions (2008) with Martin Shaw as the demon busing priest Father Jacob. It’s pretty dark and he even has a Nun (Siobhan Finnerman) as a sidekick.