'The Exorcist' Being Adapted For Television By 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' Director

The Exorcist is a landmark movie. Along with Psycho, it legitimized horror as a genre — what had previously been relegated to drive-in and second-feature filler was now big business. William Friedkin's adaptation of William Peter Blatty's novel (scripted by Blatty) scored a Best Picture Oscar nomination and nine other Oscar nods. (Best Picture went to The Sting, but The Exorcist did take Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay.)

But all things are now ripe for re-adaptation, and so producers are turning towards Blatty's novel once more. This time, the book is to be adapted into a ten-episode TV series, and the director in charge will be Sean Durkin, who made Martha Marcy May Marlene. It's actually such a good fit that I can't even muster the urge to be upset about a remake.

Vulture says that Durkin is backed by Morgan Creek and producer Roy Lee (The Departed, The Ring). The site also says,

Unlike the iconic 1973 film, Durkin's version of The Exorcist follows the events leading up to a demonic possession and especially the after-effects of how a family copes with it: In short, not well ... 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 show doesn't have a network home at this point, and will reportedly be formally shopped a couple weeks from now.

Martha Marcy May Marlene demonstrated that Durkin has a precise control of tone and menace, and I can very easily see how he might be able to do wonders with this material. Even if the show ends up on a broadcast network that doesn't allow super-explicit content, he should be able to create a chilling series. And really, Friedkin's film has a lock on the explicit version of The Exorcist, so why try to compete with that? There's no way to top what's in that movie. But there might be a way to create a parallel take that exploits the long-form possibilities of television.