Producers Reveal Fox’s New Horror Series The Exorcist Draws From Real Cases

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Producers revealed chilling new details about the forthcoming Fox series The Exorcist at a press preview on Wednesday.

The Hollywood Reporter relays that the series, which follows a mother (Geena Davis, Grey’s Anatomy, Beetlejuice) who brings in two priests to free her daughter from demonic possession. The psychological thriller not only draws from the 1973 film of the same name, but also from real modern-day exorcisms.

Said executive producer Jeremy Slater:

We’ve had actual priests come consult who have conducted exorcisms and some of the stories they tell are pretty chilling. If you go into our writers’ room you’ll see about three-dozen books that are all evil grim wars from the 14th century, witch manuals and cases of famous demonic possessions.

Two specific cases that writers looked at were those of Anna Ecklund and Anneliese Michel. Ecklund, who was a teenager in the 1920s, is said to have been inhabited by multiple spirits, and witnesses reported sightings of the teen levitating, climbing walls and speaking in languages she didn’t know. Michel, a teenager in the 1970s, was said to have been possessed by the same spirits as Ecklund. While Ecklund was reportedly freed from possession after three exorcisms, Michel underwent 70 exorcisms over the course of 10 months, ultimately dying from starvation.

Slater continued:

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.

The series is taking inspiration from William Friedkin’s 1973 horror classic, but producers said that the story is separate, and stands on its own. Slater compared the series to the Fargo franchise, saying that The Exorcist will take place in the same universe as the 40-year-old film, with the same mood and tone. He added that the goal of the show is for fans of the movie to be fans of the series, much like what has happened for Fargo.

The Exorcist will premiere on Fox Sept. 23.

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