Eli Roth has been a welcome addition to the Travel Channel lineup. The filmmaker, known for his brutal horror films, has seemingly slashed his way onto the network’s permanent programming grid, providing some pretty good chills in the process. What began with A Ghost Ruined My Life, was followed by My Possessed Pet and Urban Legend. He even teamed up with Zak Bagans for The Haunted Museum: 3 Ring Inferno (which I have yet to watch). While each of his shows provide plenty of promise, some were definitely better than others.
His latest entry, Eli Roth Presents: The Legion of Exorcists, is right up my alley. If there’s a greater good within the known universe, there’s gotta be something sinister — and way too often, that’s displayed on the evening news.
I’ve always been intrigued by the topic of demons; I’ve even seen a thing or two in real life that has completely freaked me out, immediately leading to an audible prayer or two. So, when this new series provided a podium for a variety of spiritual warriors to tell their tales, I made sure to reserve enough hard drive space on my DVR for a weekend watch-a-thon.
Here, Bishop James Long (who I previously interviewed, discussing demonology) is joined by Rev. Scott Johnson, Rev. Rita Strugala, Rev. Donnie Williams, Rev. Shawn Whittington and demonologist Rich Valdes, among others, who tell some of the paranormal tales they’ve experienced throughout the years. Each hour-long episode features two stories and for the time being, Season 1 is being listed as a six-episode order.
The series premiere offered promise, featuring a possessed antique doll (it’s a creepy clown, naturally). Sparks will fly when obsessions are revealed, followed by deadly lessons. Part two involves a family heirloom that’s bound to forces of darkness (there’s also an evil stepmother involved). Episode 2 features demonic portals, family links to witchcraft and mirrors revealing bloody apparitions. That’s a whole lot of horror tropes to take in for only a couple of episodes.
“This is a scene straight out of a horror movie…”
Eli’s the narrator and the presenter here, as if he’s becoming the modern-day Alfred Hitchcock, bringing horrific tales to the small screen. The acting isn’t the greatest and the stories don’t exactly have happy endings (one segment was absolutely incomplete, it just ended without a conclusion). The reenactments are very similar to Roth’s other programs and what’s listed as true stories feel somewhat questionable, but if you can accept them at face value for entertainment purposes only, like me, they feel adequate, at best.
When trying to look up more information about this series online, I was somewhat surprised to learn there wasn’t much to be found. That seemed odd, especially when dealing with new TV shows. Often, networks will promote their programs through webpages and social media offerings. None of that was found here. While not necessarily a red flag, sometimes it can be blamed on penny pinching. But then I dug a little deeper and started to find a little more.
Viewers were questioning the actions of these people, as well as their credibility and the truthfulness of it all. Was this all a showbiz scam, wrapped around demonic entities? I really don’t know and didn’t care to dig any further. But that might be one reason why I couldn’t find any background information on the show (or its contributors). And that’s not a good sign.
While I’m not a big fan of the story reenactments, I do find a roundtable discussion between actual exorcists and members of various faiths discussing demons to be incredibly intriguing, but that feels more like an audio podcast (a seemingly successful one, at that), than a basic cable TV show.
I really don’t know what to make of this show. Obviously, there’s quite a few frightening links between the living and the dead that are presented, and those stories deserve to be told, but I’m just not sure those are really coming from these Legion of Exorcists.