Netflix Horror Master Taking Over The Exorcist Needs To Finally Unleash Hell

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

mike flanagan the exorcist

The prayers of horror fans (or at least one fan: myself) were answered recently when it was announced that Mike Flanagan, the latter-day maestro of the genre, had taken a remake of The Exorcist. Flanagan’s work leaves a dent–the filmmaker’s impactful, original filmography, associated with his long-term relationship with Netflix, has been nothing short of groundbreaking, blending the supernatural—the terrifying—with the deeply personal. But with The Exorcist, Flanagan needs to lean into that former category and create something genuinely vicious and infamous, the cinematic equivalent of Norwegian Black Metal, if you will.

Unleash Hell, Flanagan

mike flanagan exorcist

In other words, his take on the ’70s classic should leave fans both speechless and unable to stop talking about it. Ideally, bingers will finish Flanagan’s vision of the classic franchise and feel like movie-goers emerging from the theater 50 years ago, after having seen Regen’s head turn 360 degrees.

Make no mistake: I call for Mike Flanagan to unleash hell, to take advantage of the nuclear-level horror latent in the Exorcist franchise to truly disturb and conjure unheard-of terror. 

Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep

After all, the director’s repertoire is a testament to well-crafted horror, and its utterly modern, to boot (digital effects are his strength rather than a liability, as demonstrated in Doctor Sleep’s trippy, hallucinatory sequences). Yes, sometimes the feelz can be a little too…feely…and sappiness results. But the filmmaker always compensates generously without horror excellence. 

Indeed, on occasion, the savagery is almost too much, even for a heartless horror devotee like myself. 

Look no further than Doctor Sleep; in Mike Flanagan’s take on Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining, the future Exorcist filmmaker provided a scene incomparable in terms of sheer brutality: the death of Jacob Tremblay’s character, a young boy kidnapped, tortured, and murdered—that is, eaten alive—by the True Knot. A gang of near-immortals who traverse the globe feeding on the “shine” of clairvoyant children. 

Flanagan’s Netflix Work

The profoundly unsettling but flatly unforgettable scene demonstrates Flanagan’s ability to reach out from the screen and slap you, or me, around. And that’s the attitude Mike Flanagan needs for The Exorcist. 

In other words, the gloves need to come off.  

They were off, after all, for moments of The Fall of the House of Usher, the Netflix series Flanagan handled, which only furthered his capacity for darkness.

The reimagining of Edger Allen Poe’s classic in modern times for modern audiences featured an array of wonderful/terrible scenes of unmitigated ruthlessness, like the acid-rain-dance club scene or the fantastic take on “The Cask of Amontillado,” i.e., the guy left to perish behind a steadily mounting brick wall. 

The Fall Of The House Of Usher

Usher provided Mike Flanagan with solid source material on which to layer his sensibility; The Exorcist does the same (it’s worth mentioning the narrative began as a novel, and perhaps Flanagan will draw from that as well). 

For instance, in the Poe story mentioned above, the victim is largely drunk and delirious until he realizes he’s being walled to death, at which point he starts, ya know, screaming (there’s a terrific little nuance only Poe could pull off when the screaming spooks the murderer, who builds the wall all the faster).

Flanagan Is A Master

mike flanagan exorcist

In Flanagan’s hands, though, the scene is ramped up for full cinematic effect; the victim screaming, flails, and panics. 

The fear hits us like the brick wall being built, in all its visual and auditory rawness. 

That’s the kind of rawness Mike Flanagan can affect in The Exorcist reboot. And we can’t wait.