Prepare the holy water and extra pair of Y-fronts. On October 30, Destination America is broadcasting live from the residence that’s said to have inspired The Exorcist. In a one-off show entitled Exorcism: Live! a group of paranormal investigators and a medium will attempt to rid the St. Louis dwelling of the evil spirits that linger within its walls. That group includes members of the network’s supernatural reality shows Ghost Asylum and Tennessee Wraith Chasers, who will bring in state of the art ghost-catching tech to try and bait the spectres into a live TV appearance.
The official site describes the event as the “first-ever live televised exorcism.” This is some clever marketing. Use of ‘exorcism’ hinges on public perception of the term - men of the cloth attempting to rid a possessed person of a demonic spirit. However Destination America, the harbinger of “all-American entertainment” isn’t planning on alienating any of its viewers. Despite the drama implied by the title’s all-caps style and exclamation point, what’s actually taking place sounds more like an open house with cameras and gadgets:
“Follow along as the team embarks on what is considered by many a dangerous search. They will explore each crevice of this terrifying home from the attic to the basement, to find whatever or whomever has scared Americans to death for decades.”
So they probably won’t be doing anything like this:
“As we step into one of the most haunted and well-known spirit destinations in America, EXORCISM:LIVE! will show exactly what is inside this infamous, highly dangerous and possessed home. By actually exorcising this iconic house live, Destination America will do what it does best — bringing never before seen experiences to television.”
Well, parts of its premise have been seen before. Ghost Hunters and Most Haunted both chronicle teams of supernatural experts exploring haunted locales trying to capture spooky phenomena on camera. More often than not, this sect of reality shows promising paranormal activity rely on auto-suggestion to incite mayhem. The newest element, dragging the show into contemporary times, is the immersive social media experience. Webcams dotted around the house will broadcast live feeds to the official site, and a live Twitter chat will also take place to encourage audience participation. Expect stuff like: “I just saw a massive orb tickle the boom operator’s nuts!”
EXORCISM: LIVE! could be a genuinely terrifying event or a complete non-starter. In the spirit of positive forward thinking, I’m clutching onto the hope that the power of Christ will compel those demons to overcome their camera shyness.