Lankester Merrin is a archaeologist by profession but an ordained Roman Catholic priest who has lost his faith and abandoned his vocation. He is haunted by what he was forced to do in his native Holland during World War II. The church he’s excavated in Northern Kenyan dates to the Byzantine period but this puts its construction hundreds of years before Christianity was introduced to the area. the church was buried to the rooftop in sand and as its structure is exposed, a madness slowly descends on the camp. the local tribesmen are prepared to go to war and demand that the church be buried. Soon, two British soldiers are found dead and their commanding officer, Major Granville, shoots a innocent civilian in cold blood. As fear descends upon everyone in the camp, it becomes apparent that a young disabled boy, Cheche, is possessed by the devil forcing Merrin to re-examine his own beliefs.

Also Known As: Vlast: Predhodnik Egzorciste, Domínio: Prequela do Exorcista, Легенда за екзорсиста, Exorcist: The Original Prequel, Dominion: precuela del exorcista, Paul Schrader's Exorcist: The Beginning, Dominion, Împărăţia: Prolog la Exorcistul, Paul Schrader's Exorcist: The Original Prequel, Ördögűző: Dominium, Vladavina: pre isterivaca djavola, Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, I kyriarhia tou kakou, Изгоняющий дьявола: Приквел, Dominion: A Prequela de o Exorcista, El exorcista: El comienzo - La versión prohibida, L'exorciste: Aux sources du mal, Dominion: Exorzist - Der Anfang des Bösen

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  • alexandre-andrade
    alexandre andrade

    I had wanted to see this film for ages, even before seeing the terrible Renny Harlin version. Renny Harlin!? What the hell were they thinking? I missed it on its limited cinema release, but eventually saw it on DVD, and as much as I want to say that I enjoyed it, I can’t. I can honestly see now why they weren’t happy with the final product, but to completely re-shoot it, and to hire a director like Renny Harlin, is just madness.The main problem I had with the film was the complete lack of atmosphere, and that should be the main thing with an Exorcist film. There was no feeling of fear or any creepiness in the film at all. It was all very bland.It’s good to be able to compare the two films. Harlin’s version is a Hollywood dumbed-down horror action film, while Schrader’s film is a slower-paced, thinking person’s version, but unfortunately lacking in any real horror moments.I really was hoping I would have enjoyed the film, but I have to be totally honest and give my true opinion Overall I would rate the film 6 out of 10, maybe even 5 out of 10. The Harlin version would be less than that.

  • asbjorn-pettersen
    asbjorn pettersen

    Absolutely one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen! “The Beginning” was not the greatest either but better than this one. This is not a good way to lead up to the original movie. It’s just simply awful! The CGI hyenas were so fake looking in both movies! Why not use real animals? I enjoyed the old Sinbad movies better than this. I was royally disappointed! The only good thing I can say about this waste of film is the cinematography and clothes which really captured that era well. I understand why this movie was redone as “The Beginning”. It’s just that bad, in my opinion. where does the money come from to waste like this? Give me a multi-million dollar budget and I’ll show you how it should be done!

  • kim-adams
    kim adams

    I’ve been a keen fan of the exorcist series ever since the first movie came out. And I have to say the Director’s cut pleased me much, however Exorcist: The Beginning by Renny Harlin did not follow the original movie’s path at all. It’s one of these modern Horror stories based High pitched sounds and sudden predictable events. When it comes to this one, it is not the case. The storyline is a bit slow in the beginning but like many other movies it is essential for the whole thing to wrap it’s self up. I was pleased to see that the ‘cave of snow’, which is a sign of Renny Harlin being Finnish, was not includes in this story line, although the both movies are essentially the same, there are key differences that makes everything a whole lot more enjoyable. Highly Recommended.

  • inga-sundberg
    inga sundberg

    Oh my god- it’s the surprise masterpiece of the century!!! And nothing else. It’s shocking, creepy, brilliant, touching you deeply and not letting you go for hours after you left the theater. A rare experience in movies today… A must see. After the Renny Harlin film, I had lost believe in Exorcist anything. This proved me wrong- and how it did! I could not wait to see it a second and a third time… If you were disappointed by last weeks’s science fiction releases( as I was) -make it up by seeing this fantastic “horror” experience… And if you fear another flop-be asured it’s the Exorcist prequel you always wanted to see…

  • terri-davis
    terri davis

    It’s interesting that WB finally released this title – although a limited release – after shelving it then shelling out the money to have another director (an arguably lesser director) do it all over again. What did they thing Renny Harlin would give them that Paul Schrader hadn’t? And if WB wanted a summer kid-flick-hit, what would make anyone with the power to sign a cheque think Harlin could do it? This Paul Schrader version is wonderful. It’s intelligent, and probably the only follow up in The Exorcist franchise that succeeds on more than a monetary level. I’m not a Harlin fan – he directs without vision. But I think from a purely academic stand point, it will be interesting to pair up both versions – Paul Schrader’s and Renny Harlin’s – of this movie on DVD and see the differences of where an insightful director will go and how a limited director doesn’t even how to get there.

  • kaylee-baker
    kaylee baker

    Most everybody knows by now the story behind directors Paul Schrader and Renny Harlin concerning their Exorcist prequels. Firstly, I have never seen the Renny Harlin version, nor do I care to. I was extremely surprised when Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist turned up at my local video store last Tuesday. With credits such as Taxi Driver and The Last Temptation of Christ, I was excited about watching Paul Schrader’s newest film. The 116 minutes of the movie left me speechless from beginning to end, as well as, afraid. Dominion, like The Last Temptation of Christ, is a film that digs deep into the core of Christianiaty, providing a strong spiritual battle between good and evil. Only this time, Dominion shows us a world of evil where all we have to hold on to is faith. Stellan Skarsgård plays Father Merrin, a man who buries his guilt and has lost faith in a God who he believes is absent. He leaves the church to pursue archeology in South Africa, and finds a church that was built for a demon, and still haunts the surrounding area with evil. When it has been determined that a civilian in the colony has become demoniacally possessed, Father Merrin realizes the only hope for the life and eternal soul of the colony is an exorcism. The film did have a low budget for special effects, but it does not distract it’s viewer from the deeper message it brings out. Dominion also brings us something few movies have, it puts the fear of evil into us through psychology, rather than subliminally. Dominion also brings us to a more personal level view on evil, if our deepest guilt could be forgotten or our most darkest past could be changed to live a life without regrets, would we do it? William Friedkin’s The Exorcist is, without a doubt in my mind, the scariest movie ever made, and if you have never seen it, I highly recommend you do. Paul Schrader’s Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist may not be a horror movie to scare us visually, but it successfully puts the greatest fear into us through our thoughts, hell. Overall, Dominion is a near masterpiece, yet no where near the 1973 original. But then again, what is?

  • david-miller
    david miller

    I saw Dominion about three weeks ago and I’m still thinking about it. It’s not the greatest movie ever made but it still was quite good despite its flaws (such as the lousy special effects).Does Satan influence humans to do evil? Yes, at least in the movie he does. He plays on anger and fear. He posses the young deformed native man but in a way he possess everyone and uses their anger, fear, and guilt against them. This is what made the film intriguing. I also loved the idea of the church being built over a pagan site to keep the evil at bay. Churches have been built over pagan sites maybe not for that reason but that made the film quite interesting as well. As Roger Ebert put it the “film takes evil seriously.” You don’t get that too often in horror films and in most American films. The film is not a jump at and scare you thriller it’s scary in an intellectual way and that does not happen too often in films.

  • oliviu-florea
    oliviu florea

    First of all I must say that I didn’t see the Harlin version of the film so I can’t compare. Somewhere I can understand that the producers were not really happy with the work Scharder delivered. They probably expected a pure horror film with lots of physical horror, thrills and FX.Finally what they got was a typical Scharder film (isn’that a bit normal when you hire the man as director?) about a priest having to cope with guilt and his lost in faith. Sure Scharder inserts ‘supernatural’ elements in it such as possession and exorcism but the horror remains psychological and becomes very rarely physical.The describing of the psychological hell father Merit has to undergo (when he find himself in the dessert right after the second world-war which was very traumatic for him, as we see in the overwhelming first scenes) was really very strong. It gets under your skin.Slowly the element of possession comes in (a young local boy) but Schrader remains focused on the internal Battle of father Merit. He struggles with himself, with his faith, searching for redemption: will he be strong enough to face ‘the demon’? The film is very strong in depicting all of this and when inserting subtle but very convincing horror elements in to the story we know we’re in for a (hopfully) strong climax.SPOILER – But the climax is rather disappointing. At this point Scharder switches from psychological horror to physical horror (the final exorcism scene). Apparently aware that he’s making a horror-film after all. I’ve not really a problem with the modification of psychological horror into (more mainstream) physical horror: the original Excorcist uses the same ‘formula’ very convincingly.But the final exorcism scenes here aren’t convincing at all, the special effects aren’t believable at all, they rather look cheap and therefor this scenes really are a rupture with the rest of the film which actually looks great.So Scharder delivers a very strong, captivating, strange and fascinating ‘horror-film’, cleverly building up to a climax. And there the film goes wrong. Really a pity because the film could have been a masterpiece.

  • loek-schatteleijn
    loek schatteleijn

    Yesterday I received a bunch of screener DVDs from a mate of mine. Dominion: A Prequel To The Exorcist was one of them, but I held off watching it because of a few bad comments and reviews that I had read – I’m glad I did, but not because it sucked. After watching some really bad films, today I sat and watched this. Dominion: A Prequel to The Exorcist renewed MY faith that there is hope for more amazing films like this. Dominion follows Father Merrin (who has lost his faith because of an incident with Nazis) on a dig in Africa, were he has uncovered an ancient church with a crypt (used for sacrifice) underneath. A crippled boy named Cheche is being helped by local doctor, Rachel, is effected when he crypt is opened, and his ruined arm and leg start to get better while everything else around them gets worse. Merrin must renew his faith and save the boy.This film has it’s flaws, but so does The Exorcist. The only problems I have with this film is the FX and dialogue. Yes, I know it seemed impossible, but some of the dialogue (not all, only a few little scenes) were cheesier than Sarah’s dialogue.. “Dont you wanna f*** me anymore?”.. and this is coming from some of the lead characters. The special effects are worse than the Harlin version too. But I cannot really comment on that much, since I read Schrader did not have enough money to complete everything.The rest of the film had me glued to my seat feeling uneasy, just like he original Exorcist did to me. Stellan Skarsgard is so much more deep and realistic as a person than the hero Merrin he was in Harlin’s version. Clara Beller was fantastic as Rachel, she was also a lot more real than the sex object Sarah was in Harlin’s, and I felt for her more than Sarah (Even tho Izabell was great as Sarah, she was just too basic). Gabrial Mann was also fantastic in this film and he was much more involved than the Francis character in Harlins, and less cheesy, but more of a wimp, which makes him a more caring and likable character. When I read that a pop singer was going to be the possessed boy I was a bit worried, but this guy has a great future ahead of him. His performance of the crippled boy was touching, and as the Demon he is also amazing and does a really good job. This film is very different to the past Exorcist films. But that is not a bad thing. This is not Exorcist 2 The Heretic. This is realistic and makes me feel something I have not felt since I first watched The Exorcist. The possession in the film is like nothing I have ever seen. It is like a total reverse of the cliché Linda Blair look. The Demon isn’t ugly and yelling disgusting things. He is more of a sexual god (it sounds weird, even funny, but trust me it is creepy as hell) who tempts people into joining him. At first I thought this was a bad idea, because people expect to see an horrific person screaming bad language, but people need to realize this is so much better than that cliché rubbish. This is not your average horror film, so keep that in mind if you expect to see one. There is gore, but its got style. It isn’t random killings like in Harlin’s. This film has a meaning, this film has a soul. I read Schrader said that you can’t make a film better than the original, and I agree, but you can make one just as good, and he did.Now I am going to watch this amazing film again, so see you suckers (who are still waiting to see this) later! :PDJpout.

  • taja-pintar
    taja pintar

    This movie was childish in its writing and laughable in its visual effects. Scenes where Father Merrin is tossing in his bed and his glimpses of a gimpy native are signs of bad acting and poor imagination. Nothing seems to fit. The story jumps from scene to scene. The elementary writing leaves no fact to the imagination and leaves no room for suspense. The lady doctor at one point states that she thinks the town is going to “explode soon” from all the crazy happenings. There was, in fact, nothing in the movie to make that line relevant. From the terrible job the movie had done, I would have never known that there were any tensions in the village. If you are into cheesy movies go ahead and rent this, but if you want to see this done right check out Exorcist:The Beginning

  • aija-bite
    aija bite

    Schrader’s version actually feels like it came before. there was nothing in Harlin’s action movie version that looked like it took place before 2004. The most immediately noticeable difference in this version and Exorcist: the Beginning, is that it makes sense, though it is almost the same story. And, as a bonus, we actually care. Schrader actually had a “take” on the material. His vision, as is typical of Schrader, exalts old Hollywood, which is ironic considering he was canned for not being Hollywood enough. Everything from the cinematography, to the cast, to the effects, feel like it might have actually been made in the forties when it is set. The cast is infinitely superior to Exorcist: The Beginning. Gabriel Mann, in particular, stands out. Sarsgaard is back to his old self. Pop-star Billy Crawford is a far more appealing and believable martyr than the child and Geena Davis/Saffron Burrows look-a-like possessions in The Beginning.The make-up and effects are going to get bashed, but they too seemed as if they were meant to be intentional artifice. The characters’ faces are clear and bright, instead of dusty, as they doubtlessly would be in that environment, and Cheche’s bronzed, angelic demon god, covered in toe to bald head in glitter is obviously make-up, but he looks painted, like the androgynous rapture art covering the walls of the church. One has to admire Schrader for changing the make-up concept from Friedkin’s original, which Harlin’s version copied directly. One EXTREME slow motion shot is beautiful, as is a glittering dissolve. The skies during the climax look like the backgrounds of every store-bought portrait of Jesus or the saints, a high school photo day backdrop, or a Cecil B. DeMille movie. Either way, they make this film feel aged – in a good way. One brief shot is the fluorescent green of an Italian horror, and the dream sequence brings to mind Hitchcock’s SPELLBOUND. Both Paul Schrader and Renny Harlin got screwed in this deal. Morgan Creek clearly didn’t want either of the men they hired, and didn’t believe in either vision. Had Harlin’s done better business, Schrader’s would have disappeared. Now, they release Schrader’s to make up for the disappointing box-office of Harlin’s, but they don’t advertise at all, and they release it the same weekend as REVENGE OF THE SITH. They obviously want to fail.

  • bruna-esteves
    bruna esteves

    After a massacre by the Gestapo Nazi during WWII , in postwar (1947) a young Father Merrin (Stellan Skarsgard) goes East Africa . Merrin is a parish priest from Holland with archaeological bent , he realized six archaeological digs since the war . He’s listed still as a displaced person . There finds a simple Jesuit , father Francis (Gabriel Mann) who studied his works at the Maryknoll center . Francis is quite an admirer of Merrin , he about to begin missionary work in the Turkana district , he thinks may be they could help each other . It’s found a dig in right west of Lake Rudolph in the Turkana district a church is early Christian which makes for quite a mystery given its location . A Cardinal is concerned that the exploration of this significance is conducted by a priest which is temporary in sabbatical and with no faith . Architecture church seems to date to the fifth century when the Byzantine empire had adopted Christianity by then but they never got this far south but the stones look new but they should be badly weathered by the wind and sun . Church has representations about battles on the walls and ceiling of angels (Saint Michael) and demons (Satan) . In the location Merrin encounters a Jewish Polish (Clara Bellar) and a British detachment ruled by a nutty Major (Waham) and a sergeant (Ralph Brown) . A little boy is possessed by harmful spirit and father Perrin confronts against the demon Pazuzu and he makes exorcism to save a young boy from dark forces…… This is a terrifying and startling story about possession with usual poltergeist phenomenon caused by the supernatural demon . Nice acting by Stellan Skarsgård , he is playing a younger version of Max Von Sydow’s character from The exorcist (1973). Skarsgård is nearly a decade older than Von Sydow was during the filming of the original movie . Special effects , colorful cinematography (by Vittorio Storaro) , creepy music (Trevor Ravin , Angelo Badalamenti) and intelligence by director Paul Schrader , all combined to make it a good film . The original Exorcist(Friedkin) film spread a wave of demonic possessions movies that continues unbated today such as ¨The changeling¨, ¨Amytiville¨,¨Darkness¨ ; besides the sequels as ¨Exorcist II¨ (by John Boorman) , ¨Exorcist III¨ (by William Peter Blatty) and prequels ¨The beginning¨ and ¨Dominion¨ . This rare film not for squeamish and is better than ¨Beginning¨ , being shot at the same time, remaining Paul Schrader’s version for the market video . Paul Schrader was originally hired as director of The Exorcist : The beginning (2004) , but Morgan Creek ultimately rejected his “psychological thriller” approach, saying it was “commercially unmarketable” . The decision was made to extensively rewrite and re-shoot the script, re-cast several roles , add new roles and give the director’s chair to Renny Harlin . Schrader’s version was originally supposed to be released direct to video, as a bonus feature on the DVD release of Harlin’s version . Although is a prequel of prior movie , it’s one the highest earning horror picture of the last years .

  • kelly-melendez
    kelly melendez

    In case you don’t know the story with these movies, here it is: Morgan Creek films hired Paul Schrader to direct a prequel to The Exorcist, after director John Frankenheimer left the project, presumably due to health reasons. Schrader finished shooting, and presented a rough-cut to the studio. They hated it, and Schrader was fired shortly afterwords. Director Renny Harlin was brought on to make an entirely new film from a somewhat re-worked script, most of the same cast, and the same sets. His movie was released as Exorcist: The Beginning; it got terrible reviews, and was a box-office failure. After this, with some pressure from Schrader, and, I believe, an online petition, Morgan Creek gave Paul Schrader a minimal post-production budget to finish his film, and gave it a limited theatrical release as Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist.It’s an interesting position for me to be in with these movies, because I am a fan of both directors. Both of them have made some of my favorite movies – I love Paul Schrader’s sexualized Cat People remake, and Renny Harlin’s The Long Kiss Goodnight is a shining example of a great dumb, but not stupid action movie – and they both have areas in which they excel. Though, it would be difficult to find two more different film-makers. Both movies focus on Father Lankester Merrin (Stellan Skarsgård, Max von Sydow’s character from the original film), who is going through a crisis of faith (much like Father Damien Karras in The Exorcist) after an incident in a Holland village during World War II, where an SS officer forced Merrin to choose which ten people would be killed for the murder of a German soldier. Merrin is on an archaeological dig in Africa, when he uncovers a thousand year old Christian church which, unbeknownst to Merrin, was deliberately buried to trap the spirit of the demon Pazuzu (the chief antagonist of the Exorcist series).Both movies show the strengths and weaknesses of their respective directors. Schrader capably handles the dramatic and story driven scenes, but his film never really inspires any sense of dread, his climax lacks any real tension, and because of the low budget, the CGI effects are some of the worst in a feature film since that Dungeons and Dragons movie with Jeremy Irons. Thankfully, the CGI shots aren’t that abundant. Renny Harlin, however, does give his film a more frightening atmosphere, and there are some scenes – particularly one involving assorted lepidoptera – which make you squirm. But, Harlin’s character scenes all descend into clichés and histrionics, and he has an annoying habit of shooting too much of his scenes in close-up, which detracts from the drama. Both movies also feature cinematography by the great Italian cameraman Vittorio Storaro (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Last Tango in Paris, Apocalypse Now) who’s lighting you can literally almost feel on your body as look at it.All in all, even though it is a lesser horror movie than Exorcist: The Beginning, I have to give the edge to Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist. Both movies feature more drama than horror, which should automatically give favor to Schrader. Also, Dominion is simply closer in tone and spirit to the original film, which is something that any prequel/sequel/remake should strive for. However, I do recommend watching both movies, preferably back-to-back, as the experience does give one a unique insight into how much impact a director has on a film.Final ratings: Exorcist: The Beginning – ** (out of four) Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist – *** (out of four)

  • stephen-hardy
    stephen hardy

    I wanted to see this film,it’s not often that the same movie is made by two different directors.Dominion stars the talented Stellan Skarsgård as Lancaster Merrin,an ex-priest scarred by his experience in Nazi Europe.A Nazi commander killed villagers in his parish to convince Merrin to tell him the murderer of one of his men.Merrin never forgot and left the priesthood because of it.He is now on a dig in Africa unearthing a 500 year old church.Merrin notices a retarded child named Cheche come to the dig site every day.One night Merrin finds the child severely wounded and brings him to the doctor Rachel Lesno.Father Francis comes to assist on the dig.Once they enter the church they notice odd things,the Church looks brand new and it is more of a shrine to Michael the Archangel.Upon further investigation they find a passage way to a satanic worship site directly under the church.The British army who is funding this operation come to protect their prize.Two of the soldiers are found murdered,and the Colonel goes ballistic killing the natives.The natives believe Jesus Christ is the killer,a friend of Merrins bring’s his dead child to him.”Is this how the Lord treats his servants” Merrin immediately responds “Yes” Meanwhile after a risky operation Cheche heals all most instantly.Francis says he is the only miracle in this area,after a while it is clear that Cheche is in the power of the devil.Francis tries to perform a baptism and is thrown by the demon within Cheche.Merrin goes to the Chruch to discover the doors are covered by heavy stones and Rachel is still inside with the devil.Francis is murdered by the natives,before he dies he tells Merrin he must find his faith and perform an Exorcism.Schrader’s Exorcist prequel is far more interesting than Harlin’s. All though Harlins has better special effects and better actors,Dominion has one important thing that Exorcist the Beginning lacked,the threat of true evil.The special effects are laughable and look like a direct to video picture.However the film’s story is solid and compelling. Merrin is more of a tormented figure here,and he is tempted when the devil tells him he can take his past away.Schrader’s film is slow paced at times,but all in all it is what an Exorcist film should be a story about the battle between good and evil,not a splatter film.

  • dimitri-kvarac-xelia
    dimitri kvarac xelia

    Well, after seeing “Beginning” I thought why the hell they burned Schraders Version and did that poor one. But now, after seeing “Dominion” I deeply understand this decision. Even they got it not much better.Sorry, but this movie is really crap. Some good moments, but a really boring story-telling and some major plot-holes are killing this movie.I thing the Exorcist-story has a lot and in a prequel on this you can built on a lot and give references the audience will like to see. But there is so much little of it in the movie. The effects are really bad – not even TV-standard.

  • ing-vicente-gutierrez
    ing vicente gutierrez

    A metaphysical treatment of the story. Thoughtful and intense. Horror is implied in this film… you don’t get beaten over the head with it as did the Harlin film. Schrader has always been a master at atmosphere and story over shocks and thrill rides. This is a thinking man’s horror flick. You don’t find many of those anymore. Remember the original “Haunting”. The horror is left to the imagination. That always makes it much more scary. Remy Harlin’s film was over the top, which is what the suits at Morgan Creek wanted. When monetary considerations come before artistic considerations, you usually get schlock. Paul Schrader made no such compromise… which is why he was canned.

  • eriks-dumins
    eriks dumins

    Having seen the second made but first to release Exorcist – The Beginning, the Renny Harlin version of the movie, I was very keen to see the original movie which the Studio saw and then scrapped, the Paul Schrader version.This I managed to do during the Edinburgh Film Festival 2005, and actually with paid tickets I managed to even get to hear a Q&A with the Director, which in itself was extremely interesting. For now though, let’s look at the movie.It’s really hard to watch this and not do any comparisons with the Harlin remake, and with so many similar scenes, the same actors and a very similar story I found it almost impossible not to. In doing so you realise how weak and one dimensional Harlin’s version is, the and depth of character and their development just adds so many layers to each of the characters, giving them a much more human feel and making you connect with them rather than just watch them as you did with the Harlin movie.Subtlety, dialogue and development are the keys here, things which were drastically missing from the Harlin version, and instantly you see the differences. The opening scene with Father Merrin and the Nazi’s is the first strong example of the difference in style and Schrader handles this wonderfully. The single scene builds the Nazi character much thicker with some uncertainty of the Priest, whereas the Harlin is shown as a stock Nazi character. You also understand the root of the crisis in faith that Merrin has come to, and through this single scene it hits you just as hard as it did he.It’s this that I felt was the strongest part of the movie throughout, the characters richness and depth, and the fact that you could see them as real individuals and connect with some part of them. Merrin in particular is the real focus of the movie, and the analysis of his crisis, his faith and who he really is.The following of the second, younger Priest in Father Francis, played well by Gabriel Mann, mirrors for Merrin the faith and hunger that he had as a young Priest, and watching his own slight crisis in faith provides an interesting viewpoint for the audience. Not only to understand what Merrin went through, but to watch Merrin witness this himself.Stellan Skarsgård plays the character superbly as well. There’s so much more restraint in the performance with inward pain and anger, he’s superb to watch and really does make you feel as though he carries a tortured soul. The slow climb out of the crisis to the fight back against the Demon is played slowly and with a lot of passion. It’s the moment when Merrin relives the Nazi slaughter and his second choice that shows us who he really is as a person, not just as a Priest. Comparing the two performances of Skarsgård together is, as Schrader said, an example of a masterclass in acting. In fact the whole two movies are a film students dream.Another excellent character was Major Granville, very well played by Julian Wadham. He was far stronger, richer and deeper than the Harlin version, and his scenes were a lot more believable and striking than the Harlin version which had him going mad over his butterfly collection. Here he really plays a man getting out of his depth and letting events overtake him, and he has a superb scene in the village which provides with a strong connection to Merrins past.A couple of things that stuck out in the movie but were then understandable during Schraders Q&A, were in the CGI and the famous flash of the Demon face. The face flash, which was so subtly done in the original Exorcist movies, was hugely prominent and did not hold with the subtlety in the rest of the movie. Some of the CGI was also poorly done, and during a sweeping camera shot across the front of the buried chapel the CGI rocks moved together as they tried to hold with the camera shot, the first appearance of the hyenas was also poor, showing as pure CGI and not looking in the least bit real.The script for this movie is very good, and in stark contrast to the Harlin version. This has less blood, more story and characterisation, and much more concentration on the personal battle between Merrin and the Demon. It provides a much more intelligent and subtle story building characters and the plot to a much more satisfying climax.

  • pani-anita-chaban
    pani anita chaban

    I watched DOMINION last night and found it to be excellent. The difference between this film and the Harlin film are like night and day. I love the slow build and the character of Cheche. Schrader delivers a film that not only comments on the balance and choice between good and evil, but also a great statement on colonialism. The only bad part is the choice of Gabriel Mann as Father Francis. Boy, he is awful (“Satan…is…here!”), especially when he is working of Skarsgard.But I can totally see why the studio panicked. Say what you want, but THE EXORCIST has become synonymous with vomiting, spinning heads and little girls cursing and I think that is what a majority of the audience expects or wants (based on my former dealings with customers at a video store and some heckled filled screenings). This is as far from that as possible and had they released this version, it would have died faster than Harlin’s version or Blattey’s own THE EXORCIST III (another film I think is brilliant but plummeted 60% its second week; yes I am a former box office nerd).Regardless, this is a horror film for anyone who wants to think. If you want spinning heads, cursing and vomit, go for the Renny Harlin version.

  • trond-iversen
    trond iversen

    Another reviewer claims this film was just “Exorcist: The Beginning” with some “extra footage” added. Anyone who has been following the history of the production of this film know this is not the case.This is the film that Paul Schrader shot and edited. The studio was unhappy with the results, fired him, and brought in Reny “Die Hard” Harlan to re-film it. The resulting Harlan film tanked at the box office, so Schrader was given permission to fully finish and release “Dominion” as a separate film. If anything, this is a chance for film fans to see the “Exorcist” prequel they had been promised before the studio big-wigs stepped in and brought in a hack director to “bloody it up”.

  • grg-amr
    grg amr

    Exorcist: The Beginning was an ineffective film that contains everything I hate about current genre films: impatient editing and storytelling, lines of dialogue that stop just when some characters are about to actually say something, bombardment of CGI visuals and some seriously unnecessary gore effects that are akin to the movie-makers hitting the audience over the head with a Warner Brothers iron anvil normally reserved for their cartoon characters. What a nice surprise it was to finally see DOMINION on it’s (unfortunate) limited run. Here is a movie that doesn’t assume the audience is too stupid to actually sit down and take a story in without excessive music video stimuli. Here is a movie who’s build-up is effective and will have many working hard to shake the uneasy feeling that, indeed, evil IS everywhere. There were some story elements from “The Beginning” that made no sense whatsoever. In this film – all is presented clearly, thoughtfully and much more unsettling (but it really hits you when the film comes to its climax). There is a scene in “The Beginning” where some crazed hyenas savage a character to shreds. Their appearance was curious and not presented as necessarily crucial to the film other than for one scene. In this film, just one look from them and you know right away they add to the whole atmosphere of the film. They are an ever present danger not only to the surrounding location but the always present evil watching humanity just out of sight and ready to attack when one is most vulnerable and alone. Another sequence featuring Father Merrin and Nazi soldiers is given a very clever, diabolic twist and adds MUCH to the notion of how the Devil deceives and tricks. In the other film, it’s a scene where you know only that “this is what torments Father Merrin” – and that’s it. Which is how this movie plays against Renny Harlin’s “The Beginning” – an easy sell to the masses (it STILL didn’t work). “Dominion” is a crafted piece where one single shot holds more story information than a 30 second sequence rife with vulgar, over-the-top digital effects. See this version – especially if believe that The Exocist story is actually more effective today than it EVER was.

  • brandon-long
    brandon long

    I was among the lucky ones to see this film in Brussels too. Are you going to like this film or not ? Well it all depends on what you expect. As a horror film fan, for me there is no doubt : no one will ever make a better Exorcist film as William Friedkin’s original. They can make 100 more exorcists, the 1st will remain the reference, it was innovating in many ways. Exorcist 2 took its best horror sequences from the first one. Number 3 was a cop movie. Now we have numbers 4 and 5 with the same story and even the same actors sometimes. So where is the difference ? I saw them both but I did not expect to see a better movie than the first. It is probably why I liked them both. So if you prefer horror, well see Harlin’s one, it is a decent successor. And if you like Paul Shrader’ s movies, I don’t think you will be disappointed with his version, witch is softer but deeper. But please, as he said to the public before the film : forget everything you have seen about the exorcist movies before and watch the film with a open mind.

  • borris-krogh
    borris krogh

    If you go into this film thinking you are going to see twirling heads and pea-soup you are going to be disappointed. If you go into this film with an open mind you will be pleasantly surprised by the depth, sophistication, spiritual drama, and sheer craft involved. There is meat to this picture. I think the artists involved rightly avoided trying to best or even mimic the original and instead focused on dread– a creeping sort of existential dread– instead of cheap, quick scares. You don’t jump in your seat with fear, but you walk out of the theater feeling unnerved and it stays with you. Unlike most of the American popcorn horror flicks being made today, this film lingers in your head long after.

  • ernest-mordal
    ernest mordal

    Much has been made of the peculiarly Kafka-esquire journey of ‘Dominion’: originally in the hands of the late John Frankenheimer, the ‘Exorcist’ prequel project was turned over to Paul Schrader, director/screenwriter best known for dark, gritty, existential dramas such as ‘Taxi Driver,’ ‘Hardcore,’ and ‘Auto-Focus.’ Schrader delivered a film allegedly close in spirit to the original, but the suits were unsatisfied, feeling that the film they’d been given lacked the necessary frights to please the current audience for horror films. As has been amply explained, the original ‘Exorcist’ was itself much less a horror film than a psychological drama, spare of excessive fun-house shock value, but the audience has changed–younger, dumber, and trained to expect cheap thrills–and the decision was handed down to re-tool the film to add more special effects and gore. Schrader refused, was fired and replaced by Renny Harlin, who re-shot the film almost entirely with a significantly revised story, several new actors and characters, and a decidedly less cerebral approach. But Schrader’s film was already in the can, and horror purists and Exorcist junkies were left to wonder what might have been–if, for once, there might be a sequel/prequel that made genuine efforts to add to a story’s mythic tradition rather than merely to exploit its notoriety to sell tickets and popcorn.At last, we are able to weigh in on ‘Exorcist prequel: take 1,’ and while it certainly doesn’t capture the original’s aura of terror and dread, ‘Dominion’ reminds us that the most frightening terrors are in the subconscious and the imagination, and offers a more patient and believable glimpse into how Father Merrin first encountered the demon that would later find its way into a particular corner townhouse in Georgetown.Schrader’s direction–aided by the camera of legendary cinematographer Vittorio Storraro–is patient but not without scope. They frame the African hill country beautifully, and while things at times seem a bit too clean and tidy, I didn’t consider the film ‘slow.’ Skarsgard’s Merrin is essentially the same character as in ‘Beginning,’ and while he isn’t inadequate, his performance may be a bit too restrained. As in the Renny Harlin cut, we are told that Merrin has left the priesthood out of guilt and anger at God over a particularly horrific confrontation with man’s inhumanity to man in Nazi-occupied Holland near the end of WW II. More is made of this back-story in ‘Dominion,’ but Merrin’s crisis of faith seems less palpable and torturous than that of Damien Karras in ‘The Exorcist,’ so that his re-conversion to belief doesn’t register the expected intensity. Gabriel Mann appears as Father Francis (due to schedule conflicts with the re-shoot, he was replaced by James D’Arcy in ‘The Beginning’), and his tender, almost androgynous demeanor makes him an endearing and appealing character. Clara Bellar appears as Rachel, a character entirely written out of ‘The Beginning’ and replaced with a sexier version of the same, played by Bond girl Isabella Scurupco. Bellar is more believable as a nurse in East Africa, and her back-story creates a connection with Merrin, but she still seems a bit out of place (though certainly far more appropriate to the story than her counterpart in ‘The Beginning’). Julian Wadham reprises his role as a tormented British Major, to strong and believable effect. The climactic confrontation with Pazuzu is entirely different in this film, and far more believable (and chilling). Nevertheless, there are some inconsistencies, and the framing of the exorcism scene lacks the intensity of the first film’s, largely because the audience is never adequately introduced to the victim. A big part of what made ‘The Exorcist’ terrifying is that the audience is given the opportunity to watch the full transformation of a sweet, affectionate child into a bile-spitting, profane shell for a malevolent spirit. ‘Dominion’s victim is never fully introduced, and thus, the audience has less of an investment in his exorcism. In the end, however, this film far exceeds the quality of the amusement-park silliness of ‘The Beginning,’ and while it’s not likely to break the bank, it is certainly the most respectable of the films based on Blatty and Friedkin’s original.

  • michael-galloway
    michael galloway

    I’m sure everyone by now knows the story of how Paul Schrader shot and cut his version of an “Exorcist” prequel and delivered it to Morgan Creek studios only to be told it was “commercially unmarketable” and fired from the project. Then they hired Renny Harlin, mostly known for action films, to come in and make his own bloodier, more visceral version that would appeal more to mass audiences.It’s a shame that the studios today are all about the profit and not the quality. While Harlin’s “Exorcist: The Beginning” may have appealed more to mass audiences (and by mass audiences I’m talking about those who can’t handle an intelligent story that takes time to build and need blood and guts every 10 minutes), but Schrader’s film is clearly the winner in terms of quality here.This film is far more subtle than Harlin’s in-your-face version. Until the end, there aren’t even any real “scares” to speak of. Don’t get me wrong, the movie IS scary, just don’t expect the cliché “jump scares” that are accompanied by a loud jolt of music, or someone sneaking up behind somebody. The scares in this one come from a purely psychological angle as the film works to get under your skin, push your buttons, and unnerve you greatly.This version is a much more mature effort that works through creating layered characters and a good story. Harlin’s version was like a cheap, plastic knock off of the real thing.Now what exactly is different about the two films? Well most of the actors are the same, though the roles are altered just a tad. The sets are the same. The *basic* story is the same. The real differences come in concerning the possession victims. Harlin’s theatrical version centered on a young village boy being the object of possession, treading a very familiar route we’ve all seen before. Schrader’s “Exorcist” takes a different route by turning the tables around: instead of the possession victim getting physically and mentally weakened as the demon takes over, the story focuses on Cheche, an afflicted young man that actually becomes better as the possession takes over his body. To watch Cheche miraculously heal from a surgery in a matter of days and see his strength and mental capabilities growing is truly unnerving. I found the character to be more interesting than even little Regan Macneil in the original movie.The acting is about the same in terms of quality, though with Skarsgard giving a much subtler performance this time around.Alas, the film is not without faults. There is some god-awful CGI thrown into the film (I can’t decide if it’s cheesiness was a result of the movie never being finished properly or if it was just that bad) and the ending feels somewhat anticlimactic. The showdown between Merrin and the demon is what this movie is all about, yet something about the entire sequence just doesn’t sit well. It’s not “big” enough. It doesn’t have the weight it should considering it IS the main focus of the movie. And it all came a little too fast. The pacing of the film just doesn’t sit quite well. By the time the shite hits the fan, we’re almost at the end, and Merrin goes from disbeliever to Bible-thumping exorcist in way too short of a time period.Perhaps more work could have been put into Merrin’s character. The film is okay as it stands, but more work and a little more background would have been great.No matter what though, this one is still loads better than that crapfest Harlin put out. A much creepier, less in-your-face, subtler film that gets under your skin and reaches you on a level not one of the sequels has done yet. It’s a shame the ADD-riddled audiences today can’t handle a mature film like this.

  • carolina-teodoro-bustamante-quiroz
    carolina teodoro bustamante quiroz

    I just saw this a couple of nights ago at a media screening in New York. There are no spoilers in this review.Just to preface this, I am a HUGE fan of the Exorcist. It is the greatest horror movie ever made, and perhaps one of the greatest films ever made period. With no major expectations, I saw the Harlin version last year just hoping for a somewhat scary sequel movie. I cannot tell you how irritated I was by it. I was so annoyed that I actually wrote a letter of complaint to Morgan Creek Pictures demanding my money back. What bothered me the most is that Exorcist: The Beginning made no effort to keep the same aesthetics as the original. The 1973 classic had very little gore or special effects. It was more about strong directing, good sound editing, and building mood and atmosphere. Harlin’s version, on the other hand, was more of an action movie along the lines of The Mummy or Van Helsing, only with more R rated thrills: loads of gore, loads of special effects, none of it the least bit scary.Well, once I found out about the Paul Schrader version I became obsessed with wanting to see it. From what I heard it was more in the spirit of the original Exorcist and more of a “thinking man’s film”. Plus it was written by Caleb Carr, author of one of my favorite novels: The Alienist. I was even more excited when I found out they were releasing it in the theaters this year.So onto my review…I wasn’t exactly “blown away” by Dominion, but it’s 100 times better than “The Beginning”. It at least maintains those aesthetics that I described above. It’s not a straight up horror movie, there’s probably only 2 or 3 real scares in the whole film, but those scares are far more terrifying than any of the cheap fun house type thrills that Harlin’s version has to offer. Although the big scares are minimal, there’s loads of creepiness in the movie. It manages to make you feel uneasy the whole way through. I didn’t have a hard time falling asleep that night, but I did wake up in the middle of the night kind of bothered thinking about some of the weird images that were burned in my brain.From the beginning, what I liked immediately is that it was kind of grainy and looked like a 15 or 20 year old movie. There was something old fashioned about the style of film-making which made me feel like I truly was in Africa during the 1940s….much more so than the other slick Hollywood version. The cinematography is excellent. Much like a David Lynch film, you need to see it on the big screen because there’s so much detail to enjoy that can be missed on a small television screen. My favorite scenes revolve around the archaeological expedition of an ancient temple buried in Africa. As they’re exploring the catacombs under the temple, there’s some bizarre faces carved into the rock. They don’t jump out and say, “boo!” but they creep you out as your eyes discover them on their own terms.I definitely took this version much more seriously. It’s a very emotional film: many scenes managed to make me feel upset, bothered, unsettled, and sometimes even disturbed. Even simple scenes like people getting shot were so much more upsetting in their treatment. It also was successful in getting me to think about god, religion, and faith the same way that the first Exorcist did.Of course Dominion does have it’s flaws:-Some of the acting could have been better and I can understand the need to do some recasting. The Nazi officer in the beginning wasn’t the least bit intimidating. And Father Merrin’s assistant Father Francis had sort of a Keanu Reeves quality about him. That’s probably the biggest advantage that the first Exorcist has over this film. When you watch that movie, the actors are much more convincingly terrified. And that’s what makes a great horror movie. Fear is a learned response. If the viewer is convinced that the actor is scared, then he/she gets scared, too. There’s no substitute for good acting, not with all the special effects in the world.-There’s very little special effects in this movie, but the few scenes that do have CGI are really bad. There is no reason to use computer effects to portray animals such as jackals, cattle, scorpions, etc. Get the real thing or use puppetry. This movie did not need special effects.-The ending climax scene, the confrontation between Father Merrin and the devil, could have used a little bit more intensity. I felt like he got through that scene much too easily, considering that in the first Exorcist, one priest died and the other was brought to near death during the exorcism. Stellan Skarsgard didn’t even break a sweat! William Friedkin would have worked him to the ground. This scene kind of reminded me of a Star Trek episode.If you are at all interested (and are still reading this), these are my personal letter grades to the Exorcist films I have seen:Exorcist (1973) A+, Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) F, Dominion: A Prequel to the Exorcist (2005) B-Although not perfect, I think 75% of Dominion was salvageable. There was no reason to scrap it and make an entirely different, much worse version. With some minor changes, Dominion could have been raised a whole letter grade into a very scary, very respectable, and probably very successful installment into the Exorcist franchise and at much less cost, too.