We’ve got ‘The Exorcist, ‘Preacher’ and ‘The Conjuring’ franchise.
This fall, Fox is rebooting one of the most infamous horror titles ever produced by American pop-culture: The Exorcist. Based on the 1973 film (which itself was based on a novel), the show follows two priests who find themselves facing off with the demonic, as a local family pleads for their help after they come to suspect evil forces are at work in their home.
Warning, the trailer below is disturbing.
One of the things that makes The Exorcist different than some of the other recently popular shows in the horror genre (like The X-Files, The Walking Dead, True Blood, etc.) is that it isn’t based on supernatural lore, sci-fi, ghosts or aliens. It’s based on Christian notions of horror, specifically, demonic possession.
And it’s not alone. AMC’s current hit Preacher—which is based on a comic book series—follows a minister who receives supernatural abilities after he becomes possessed by a demon/angel hybrid. In Cinemax’s Outcast, which, you guessed it, is based on a comic by Robert Kirkman, is about a minister (along with another protagonist) and, you guessed it, strange encounters with demonic possession.
None of these are overtly Christian shows in any way. But they all rely on clear religious imagery and themes in their plotlines.
Even on the big screen, the possession genre is having a moment. The recent installment in The Conjuring franchise—which is about, that’s right, demon possession—recently surpassed the $300 million mark. As Deadline notes, that makes it the third highest-grossing horror franchise of all time.
Behind the Trend
In an interview with RELEVANT, Carey Hayes, one of the screenwriters of the Conjuring films—who also happens to be a committed Christian—suggested that the newfound popularity in the genre was because people were becoming more aware of real stories that deal with possession.
“I think that social media has really exploded the ability to look at somebody else’s experiences firsthand,” he said. “You’re having the Vatican announcing that they’re training more exorcists, and [the demonic] is becoming more prevalent in our consciousness today. I think that awareness is heightened because of a deep-rooted curiosity.”
To a degree, he’s right. Social media and the internet are exposing people to new kinds of stories and experiences, but the same thing could be said for almost any topic. What if there’s something else behind the trend? Something that tells us more about culture than it does about the genre.
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