I have a lot of movies at home. Not as many as some, but probably more than a lot of people. But one Blu-Ray that I don't own (yet) is THE EXORCIST. There are quite a few reasons, one in particular - and I'm well-aware that it's one of the greatest horror films of all time. That's pretty much undisputed. For a long time, when I was in my twenties and thought I knew everything, I blew this movie off. "It's not really scary," I would say. "Much of it gets silly."
Then I saw it after I got married with a kid on the way, and it scarred me. If you're a parent? THE EXORCIST is far more frightening than when you're younger and full of beans. Watching your daughter turn into some kind of alien thing in her bedroom, screaming obscenities and doing horrible things to herself - if that's not a metaphor for adolescence I don't know what is. And then there's the religious aspect, which, as a lapsed Catholic, I could certainly relate to. What makes THE EXORCIST great isn't the scary stuff. It's the stuff in between that's the real meat - the questioning of faith, of familial bonds, of childhood struggles and parental doubts that fuel the film, something that William Friedkin absolutely understood while making it.
Now, before many of you go ballistic, yes, THE EXORCIST is being remade. But not as a film. It's being remade into a ten-episode television series for a undetermined network, according to Vulture. It's being adapted by Sean Durkin, who is the writer and director of last year's utterly brilliant MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE. Those things I mentioned above? Durkin's film has all of that and it's terrifying to boot. That final, ambiguous shot, full of dread and possibility, helped make MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE one of my favorite movies last year and Elizabeth Olsen was frankly robbed of awards consideration for her work in it. Durkin's take on William Peter Blatty's novel will be expanded to tell the story of "the events leading up to a demonic possession and especially the after-effects of how a family copes with it... and when medical and psychiatric explanations fail, the desperate family turns to the church, with Father Damien Karras finally brought in to attempt the exorcism." The project will be produced by Morgan Creek and Roy Lee (executive producer of THE RING).
From his previous film, I'd imagine Durkin is more interested in the drama than in the scares, at least until the climactic exorcism. No word on casting yet, but since this is to be a miniseries, I hope that Durkin will be allowed to go as extreme as Friedkin did. I don't dismiss remakes outright like many of you do; it really depends on the talent involved and I think Sean Durkin is a very talented filmmaker who deserves his shot at this. And it's not like the movie will instantly disappear off shelves when this gets released. THE EXORCIST is a classic; it's not going anywhere. I wish the best of luck to Sean Durkin and his project and I hope the finished work stuns us all.
Oh, and to answer your question about why don't I own THE EXORCIST? My wife won't even look at the cover, much less see the movie. My mother-in-law won't even allow it in her house. That movie still terrifies over 40 years later. That's genuine power, and if Sean Durkin can tap into that, he might make something amazing.