Filmmaker William Friedkin has made many popular movies in his time. But none have had the kind of impact and legacy as his 1973 horror movie The Exorcist. This being the age of reboots, there have long been rumors that Warner Bros. is looking to remake the iconic film for a new generation of fans. Friedkin took to Twitter to address such rumors by vigorously denying any involvement in a planned reboot.
“There’s a rumor on IMDB that I’m involved with a new version Of The Exorcist. This isn’t a rumor, it’s a flat-out lie. There’s not enough money or motivation in the world To get me to do this.”
So it seems even if there is going to be a reboot of the film, it will not be with Friedkin’s involvement. The original The Exorcist was based on the 1971 novel of the same name by Willam Peter Blatty. It told the story of the demonic possession of 12-year-old Regan and her mother’s attempt to rescue her through an exorcism conducted by two Roman Catholic priests.
While the basic premise of The Exorcist is quite simple and has since been copied countless times across films and television, what made the film truly impactful would be impossible to replicate in a reboot, simply because the things that were so surprising about the original film will no longer be considered surprising or new.
When The Exorcist first came out, Hollywood had never seen a movie like it before. The graphic scenes of violence regarding a young child, the sacrilegious imagery, the questioning of the validity of faith, and the haunting musical score and sound effects all combined to produce something akin to wide scale panic.
Newspaper articles were written extorting for the film to be removed from theaters. Reports were published daily of young and old audience members leaving theaters in tears, vomiting, or needing to be hospitalized. The US rating board was lambasted for giving the film an R-rating where many critics felt it deserved no less than a hard X rating.
So influential was the film that the horror landscape is often viewed as Before-The Exorcist and After-The Exorcist. Naturally, every horror trick used in the film has been copied and reused endlessly since. A number of sequels were also made to The Exorcist, but none ever came close to capturing the public’s imagination like the original, and the sequels were seen as pale imitations of Friedkin’s inspired piece of filmmaking.
Considering its influence, it can safely be said that The Exorcist should never be remade, any more than one would consider remaking Citizen Kane or Gone with the Wind. And William Friedkin clearly feels the same way as well. It now remains to be seen whether Warner will respect the filmmaker’s wish to leave his seminal work alone, or (and this is much more likely) they will move forward with the reboot with a new director at the helm.