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Review: Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)

Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)

Directed by: Renny Harlin

Premise: Prequel to 1973’s The Exorcist. Father Merrin (Stellen Skarsgard), the exorcist from the original picture, leads an archeological expedition into a cursed church.

What Works: Skarsgard does a very good job; the story has given Merrin an interesting character arc to go through. We can see a lot of the character that Max Von Sydow played in the original and in his character there is a sense of continuity between this film and the original.

What Doesn’t: This just is not a very scary film, which is surprising from Harlin, who has done successful horror films in the past such as Deep Blue Sea and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4. It does have plenty of gore (and was originally given an NC-17) but it never slows down enough to be scary. This film attempts to tell a bigger story but by going for the larger canvas, it is unable to replicate the intimate terror of the original picture.

Bottom Line: The link between this film and the original is really on contrivance. Fans of Skarsgard and Harlin may want to have a look but fans of the original Exorcist will likely be disappointed.  

Note: This is the second version of this picture. Paul Schrader was originally hired and completed a version of the film but Morgan Creek Productions disliked it and had Harlin remake ninety percent of the picture. Schrader’s version, Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, has since been released on DVD.

Episode: #15 (August 22, 2004)