- - -
Jay Baruchel Ramps Up Writing Career With Two Projects (Exclusive)
It seems like Jay Baruchel has been bitten by the writing bug.
After co-writing his recently wrapped comedy Goon, Baruchel has signed on to write the adaptation of Kickstart Comics’ Random Acts of Violence and is in final negotiations to rewrite Summit’s Exorcism Diaries.
Baruchel will work with his writing partner Jesse Chabot on both projects. . . .
Summit’s Exorcism Diaries is based on the book The Real Story Behind The Exorcist by Mark Opsasnick and is being produced by Roy Lee, Sonny Mallhi and Doug Davison. Summit’s tale centers on a reporter searching for the truth behind the most famous exorcism in history, but soon discovers that the real-life story is not quite finished. As a result, she finds herself in harm’s way of the same supernatural entity that she is chasing. . . .
Hollywood Reporter, May 4
- - -
That description of the movie's premise is, uh, interesting, because I first became aware of Opsasnick's work on this case about a dozen years ago when he wrote 'The Haunted Boy of Cottage City: The Cold Hard Facts behind the Story that Inspired The Exorcist' for Strange magazine (1999-2000). In that article, he includes photos of the house where the real exorcism took place, and of the boy upon whom it was performed ... but to preserve the boy's privacy, he posted not a mugshot but a class photo, with no identifying captions. And this is how his article concludes:
. . . With the completion of this adventure we now know who the boy was, where he really lived, where he attended school, who his friends were, what his family life was like, and what behavior and personality traits he exhibited before his alleged “possession.” The credibility of the mysterious diary has now been called into question. I have shown that Father Walter Halloran—the one living, talking eyewitness to the St. Louis exorcism attempts, maintains that he did not witness any supernatural behavior by Rob Doe—no strange foreign languages (other than mimicked Latin), no changes in tone of voice, no prodigious strength, no excessive vomiting or urinating, and—to top it off—he is uncertain about the nature of the markings or skin brandings on the boy’s body. Perhaps most important of all, this case illustrates the need in paranormal investigation for close scrutiny of both initial newspaper accounts and highly touted individuals as providers of information. In this instance, both sources muddled the picture by embellishing the story when facts were uncertain.
Personally, I do not believe Rob Doe was possessed. There is simply too much evidence that indicates that as a boy he had serious emotional problems stemming from his home life. There is not one shred of hard evidence to support the notion of demonic possession. The facts show that he was a spoiled and disturbed only child with a very overprotective mother and a non-responsive father. To me his behavior was indicative of an outcast youth who desperately wanted out of Bladensburg Junior High School at any cost. He wanted attention and he wanted to leave the area and go to St. Louis. Throwing tantrums was the answer. He began to play his concocted game. For his efforts he got a collection of priests (who had no previous exorcism experience) who doted over him as he lay strapped to a bed. His response was that of any normal child—he reacted with rage, he wanted out. Without delving into the dynamics of psychosomatic illness, there is no question there was something wrong with Rob Doe prior to January 1949, something that modern-era psychiatry might have best addressed. Rob Doe was not just another normal teenage boy.
Each of the parties involved in this case approached it from its own frame of reference. To psychiatrists, Rob Doe suffered from mental illness. To priests this was a case of demonic possession. To writers and film/video producers this was a great story to exploit for profit. Those involved saw what they were trained to see. Each purported to look at the facts but just the opposite was true—in actuality they manipulated the facts and emphasized information that fit their own agendas.
While my efforts in this investigation were not meant to be all-inclusive, we now have a wealth of previously uncovered information about the alleged possession of Rob Doe. Future investigative work into this case will hopefully begin at the heart of the matter, rather than weave its way through a confusing maze of myths, false leads, and self-serving propaganda.