THE EXORCIST Review: “Safe As Houses”

Father Bennett nearly died in the last season of The Exorcist as he tried to protect the Pope’s visit to Chicago from the secret society of possessed clergymen and women out to kill the figurehead of the Church.  He was able to escape despite Cardinal Guillot having him suffocated and made to appear like he slit his wrists in a suicide attempt.  Now back in the Vatican in the Office of Exorcism, Bennett is compiling an investigation into the people who’ve infiltrated the Church under the influence of demons.  This isn’t just run of the mill demon possession, it’s what he calls “The Integration Process,” where the demon and the human soul fuse in a permanent and irreversible condition.

Bennett’s investigation isn’t complete, but he’s called to present what he’s found to an inquiry of his superiors.  During the inquiry, Cardinal Guillot puts on a show.  Bennett has accused the Cardinal of being possessed.  The Cardinal drinks Holy Water to prove he’s not under the influence of a demon, but then winks at Bennett afterward.  Another Cardinal, who has taken Bennett under his wing, tells him after the inquiry that the office of Exorcism is being systematically choked out of existence by the rogue elements within the Church.  These same elements want to find Father Marcus and Tomas and silence them.  Bennett is sent away right before his benefactor’s arrest with the name of a talented female Exorcist Bennett needs to find and protect.  He’s now on his own, outside of the Church just like Marcus and Tomas.

The ability to weave three different storylines together without things feeling disjointed shows how much thought has been put into this continuation of The Exorcist franchise.  Jeremy Slater has done a wonderful job reimagining the world of The Exorcist and fleshing it out for a television series.  The cast of characters that inhabit this world are as diverse as the Catholic Church’s reach throughout the world, and the actors portraying these characters are top notch.  Alfonso Herrera absolutely stuns with his ability to be both empathetic to those he’s trying to help, and sympathetic in his own struggles regarding his abilities and place in the world.  Ben Daniels, who hasn’t been given nearly enough roles suitable to his talents, plays the world-weary mentor who struggles with his own feelings of inadequacy after being excommunicated from the Church.  Together these two roam the world untethered from the Catholic Church, with only Bennett’s guidance toward cases he deems their spiritual talents can help.  Will they continue to deliver the populace from evil before the rogue elements taking over the Church can catch up with them?

The Exorcist has the ability to be unsettling without showing too much, which is a strength given how much other horror shows and movies rely on visual effects and jump scares over psychological horror and dread.  The scene where Shelby goes to watch a lamb giving birth is exactly what I’m talking about.  There’s an unsettling air and tension over all of the other animals in the barn, so that by the time the lamb gives birth to the abomination inside of an embryonic sack, we are already on the edge of our seats.  The camera doesn’t fixate on what the creature is, which is why it’s so much more startling when Shelby walks the woods home to Andy’s house and hears the unnatural sounds of sheep and other animals surrounding him in the woods.  He’s already unsettled by the botched birth, and now he’s haunted by phantom sounds of the animals he already witnessed in torment.  There’s an evil on the island, but we’re only shown it in tiny moments, which will definitely make the full revelation even more haunting.

Marcus and Tomas are like an old married couple.  They need each other to deliver the possessed from oppression, but they differ on the method in which to do it.  Marcus has found he has a gift, which he believes is from God, to allow the demon inside of him to do battle inside of a dream-like state where the things he sees are the keys to defeating the demon.  Tomas doesn’t understand why Marcus is so concerned and worried about this method, but Marcus has been at the exorcism game for a long time, and has lost a lot of friends and colleagues along the way.  Their differing opinions are the result of a lifetime of experience versus a newcomer’s enthusiasm and overconfidence.  It’s clear this method of Tomas’s is going to get the better of him at some point.The question is, will he survive it?

Tomas was able to use his method to save Cindy from the clutches of evil, but only after she had wreaked havoc on the hospital her husband brought her to.  She killed several hospital staff, and was on the cusp of killing at least one baby in the newborn ward before Marcus and Tomas were able to stop her.  Tomas was able to overpower the demon by the clues in his vision or dream state, but the demon planted a seed of distrust in Tomas when it told him Marcus was jealous of his abilities.  If it can divide these two men working as a team, there will be no way one of them can stop a possession on their own.  Their strength comes from their partnership, and if they are unable to see this evil will win.

John Cho as Andy, has made the role of a guardian trying to save wayward kids and make them feel part of a family again his own.  There’s real love in the way he takes care of the children in his foster home, and he does it all while still dealing with the loss of his wife.  He doesn’t want the incident with Caleb to have a negative impact on the report Rose is writing, and for the time being it seems like she’s not going to do anything to jeopardize his foster home status.  It won’t be long before things get incredibly eerie though, and with Marcus and Tomas heading to Washington State, how long will it be before things really get crazy on the island?

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Still quiet here.sas

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