At a press screening for the new series held on Wednesday evening, screenwriter and executive producer Jeremy Slater (Fantastic Four, The Lazarus Effect) revealed that while show will take some cues from both William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel and the William Friedkin film, it also draws inspiration from terrifying real cases of demonic possession.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Slater says the show’s writers did extensive research on the history of exorcisms and demonic possession, and that the series will weave-in elements from some of the most famously documented cases.
One in particular is that of Anneliese Michel – a young German girl who died from malnourishment in the late ‘70s after priests performed over 60 exorcisms on her over the span of a year. Michel’s story has been the inspiration behind films such as The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Requiem.
“You see the pictures and videos and it is just the most haunting, upsetting thing you’ve seen in your entire life. You look at that and you say, ‘There’s no way that person’s faking that!’ But the only alternative is almost too scary to think about. Those are the ones that stick with you and those are the ones that really creep you out.”
And while comparisons to Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece are inevitable, Slater stressed the new series is not a remake or a reboot, but rather a fresh, new story set in the same universe as Blatty’s original tale and hopes audiences will begin to see it as its own beast.
“We’re trying the same approach as Fargo where here’s a show that takes place in the same universe as the original film, same tone, same mentality, but brand new characters and a brand new story. If you enjoyed the movie Fargo you are probably a fan of the television series. That’s really been the goal for this show. That’s why we are doing the internet research scene where you see the famous Georgetown exorcism did take place in the ‘60s to let audiences know that we’re not rewriting history. We’re not taking away the story you love. All that actually happened, but this is a new story and we’re going in a very different direction. Hopefully after the first couple episodes we can stand on our own kind of as our own beast and step out of the shadow a little bit.”
He also took to Twitter to further clarify:
“Our show isn’t a remake of the original film. New characters, new story, although it takes place in the same general universe. Think Fargo.
In fact, the entire reason I initially took the job–three years ago–was to prevent anyone else from remaking THE EXORCIST.
You can dislike the idea of an Exorcist show, but rest assured that we’re not remaking or rebooting or disregarding a classic.
We’re doing our own thing. No one is watering down Pazuzu.“
The Exorcist stars Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis as a desperate and frightened mother who believes her family is being effected by an evil presence within their home, ultimately turning to a young priest (Alfonso Herrera) for help. It premieres September 23 on Fox.