"I don't think I will ever be the same having seen this astonishing thing," says William Friedkin, director of The Exorcist. No, he's not talking about the movie that terrorized you with a scene of a possessed child doing a backward spider crawl down the stairs. Friedkin says the Vatican's official exorcist invited to film a real-life exorcism in Rome earlier this month and he was "astonished" by how similar the event was to the version depicted in his 1973 film, per the AFP. The Vatican says it never invited Friedkin for a visit and doesn’t even have an exorcist, though it does recognize the International Association of Exorcists, per the Washington Post. The Vatican rep says Friedkin may have confused the Vatican with a Catholic diocese or other group.
Whatever Friedkin witnessed, it was something "few people have ever seen and which nobody has ever photographed," he claims—though this keyhole video supposedly shows an exorcism from 2014. And it hasn't shaken his belief in the supernatural. He says he believes the 14-year-old boy, "Roland Doe," on whom The Exorcist story is based truly was possessed in 1949. "I read the diaries not only of the priest involved, but the doctors, the nurses, and the patients at Alexian Brothers Hospital in St. Louis where this case was carried out," Friedkin says. "I'm convinced that there was no other explanation." The director, who spoke about the experience at the Cannes film fest on Thursday, hasn't revealed what will happen to his footage from Rome. (Read more exorcism stories.)