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Plot:

Archeologist Lankester Merrin is asked to go to East Africa to excavate a church that has been found completely buried in sand. Merrin is also an ordained Roman Catholic priest who, still haunted by what he was forced to do during World War II in his native Holland, eschews any religion or belief. He’s fascinated by what he finds and that it dates hundred of years before Christianity was introduced to the area. Accompanied by a young priest, Father Francis, to keep an eye on the religious elements of what they find, Merrin makes his way to the camp. There he meets a young doctor, Sarah and soon realizes there is an air of gloom that envelops the entire site. Workmen go mad and a young boy is mauled by a pack of hyenas while completely ignoring his younger brother Joseph. Inside the church itself they find signs of desecration. Merrin is forced to re-examine his lack of faith and come face to face with the devil.

Also Known As: Eksorcisten: Begyndelsen, Заклинателят: Началото, L'exorciste, au commencement, Exorcist IV: The Beginning, O Exorcista: O Início, Manaaja: Alku, The Exorcist IV, Exorcisten: Begynnelsen, Exorcista - O Princípio, Exorcist: The Beginning, El exorcista: El comienzo, Az ördögűző: A kezdet, Egzorcysta: Początek, Exorcista: el comienzo, Exorcista: O Início, Vaimude väljaajaja: Algus, Exorcistul: Începutul, Exorcist: Dominion, Isterivač đavola: Početak, Egzorcistas: pradžia, Изгоняющий дьявола: Начало, Vymítac dábla: Zrození Czech, Exorkistis: I arhi tou kakou, Exorzist: Der Anfang, Egzorcist - pocetak, Exorcista: El comienzo, L'esorcista - La genesi, L'exorciste: Le commencement, Εξορκιστής: Η Αρχή του Κακού, Exorcist Prequel

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  • martin-dvorak
    martin dvorak

    Having watched the original movie the night before I saw this one, I prayed that the spirit of it wouldn’t be lost in all of the newage horror film hooplah. When I sit through a horror movie, I except to be entertained. With so many movies lately, its more about who is in them than what they are about. While Exorcist: The Beginning doesn’t fail on the gore and grossness (ie the murders of crows eating icky things and the whole bit with the hyenas), it doesn’t get lost. On the contrary. It brings to light the why and the how of The Exorcist. When you’re sitting in a darkened theatre surrounded by people waiting to get scared, the tension so thick you couldn’t even cut it with King Arthur’s Excalibur, and a creature pops up, making the people in front of you lose their popcorn, the entire experience is all the better. Exorcist: The Beginning delivers just this.

  • duje-stimac
    duje stimac

    No more simple minded muttering. This film is a very good, well done scary movie. It can be noticed, that the overall film-criticism does not do right and keep its filmographically righteous attitude. Perhaps the case of Paul Schrader has had some effects on that; but that is more politics than giving merits to a movie.Flick is pretty good, “well done”, very good scary movie in its own genre;it keeps easily its suspense. bw IOL

  • lori-brown
    lori brown

    What is it with people nowadays. This film was great. all you are doing is comparing it to the exorcist, now be honest, if you do that then whats the point in watching the film at all. the only reason the first exorcist film was brilliant was because that kind of thing had never been done before and it was a shock to everybody at the time. I bet that if the exorcist was released today it wouldn’t get the same reception that it got in the 70’s. It’s a fact that most people who watch the film now laugh at it and think its funny not scary. The Exorcist the beginning won’t scare todays generation cause its a case of “been there, seen that” but it is interesting none the less. So give the film some credit. It had genuinely good actors that were pleasant to watch and it had a great storyline that kept you glued to the screen till the very end. Yes it was quite gory at some parts in the films but some people like that kind of thing. To be honest i think the film would have been fine without the gore because its not the gore that the audience wants its a good storyline and atmosphere. I think that Stellen Skarsgard was very good as Lancaster Merrin and he looks a lot like him as well. Thumbs up for the casting andXXXXXX SPOILER SPACE XXXXXXXXXXXi thought it was nice to watch the relationship between Merrin and Sarah but it was a pity what had to happen at the end.XXXXXX SPOILER SPACE ENDS XXXXXXXSo to finish if people had the same attitude to films that i have they wouldn’t slate them as much. 9 out of 10 for me.

  • oskars-avotins
    oskars avotins

    Renny Harlin directs the second prequel to the brilliant “The Exorcist”, after Paul Schrader’s initial attempt was deemed not scary (or gory) enough by producers. Concerning the abandonment of his faith before the events of “The Exorcist”, “Exorcist: The Beginning” is at most largely different in tone to its chronological follow up. At a glance, the film would seem more suited to the “Omen” saga, with the director using legitimate biblical events to establish Lancaster Merrin’s relationship with the demon Pazuzu. The weaker points of the movie include the casting of Alan Ford as Jeffries. His character seems unusually vacant from the plot and insignificant to the story whilst Ford makes no attempt of playing Jeffries as anything other than Brick Top from “Snatch”, a performance that stands out uncomfortably in a bleak horror film set in the late forties. Meanwhile, whilst Stellan Skarsgard’s performance as Lancaster Merrin is convincing and well acted, he is not playing the same Merrin as Max Von Sydow, an advantage to Skarsgard’s ability, but it weakens the sense of continuity within the character. It does not feel like the viewer is watching the same person, whereas, in a similar case, Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of Obi Wan Kenobi in the “Star Wars” prequels compliments Alec Guiness’ in the earlier films. These weaknesses are very much outweighed by the positive elements in the film. Whilst the tone is different, the shock value is still there and there are many shocking “Exorcist” elements that reinforce the fact that this is the same evil the viewer endured in the 1973 film. Much like “The Exorcist,” “Exorcist: The beginning” introduces the viewer to a wealth of uneasy psychological tension (aswell as the most shocking child – related accident ever put on film) before unleashing unrestrained shock and vulgarity, at some points even more unsettling than the original film…. lets just say Reagan was strapped safely to a bed. Although there are numerous flaws that prevent this from holding the torch to the original, “Exorcist: The beginning” is a worthy foundation for the demonic saga and casts a triumphant shadow over previous sequels and the climactic encounter is a nostalgic treat, whilst Merrin’s rediscovery of his faith can not fail to raise a smile in an otherwise bleak situation.

  • lisa-burnett
    lisa burnett

    I was most surprised at this film having heard from various sources that it was pretty awful. It came on late on one of sky channels and I was alone and thought, why not? Love horror, love The Exorcist original. I found the acting superb and although not paced the quickest, very absorbing and effective. The Nazi scenes were perhaps a little clichéd but certainly added depth to Merrin’s character. The CGI sometimes bordered on Playstation graphics but it wasn’t over used. Although the end bowed to some classic exorcism stuff, there was a nice twist and it just about managed to hold together. Definitely worth a look.PS I stayed up even later and watched Exorcist III which was on straight after (funy scheduling!!) and they were chalk and cheese. I think either film stands up on it’s own, regardless of the franchise. Looking forward to seeing Dominion now as a comparison!

  • carol-sanchez
    carol sanchez

    The first time I viewed this, I was NOT well for the frights. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!The second time I viewed it, I was still not ready for some of the horror. But I liked the movie even better.After my third viewing I am confident in my assessment that while this is by no means a masterpiece, I was most surprised at the caliber of the production, the top notch cast, (most notably, Stellan Skarsgård, the actor playing the young Father Merrin), and the fact that the story of the incident alluded to in the original is not as cheesy as some viewers would have you believe. Moreover, when one considers the sequels to the original, this prequel, in comparison, is indeed a worthy complement.To be sure, some of the horror, blood, and gore can be most disturbing. But, hey, folks, its a HORROR film…it is supposed to make you recoil in disgust!!! In the final analysis, this is infinitely better than the sequels that the original spawned and makes a wonderful horror doubleheader with the original.Certainly a worthy addition to any film library.

  • ronald-jackson
    ronald jackson

    Exorcist: The Beginning starts in Cairo during 1949 as Father Lankester Merrin (Stellan Skarsgard) is approached by a man named Semelier (Ben Cross) who ask’s Merrin to join a dig in Kenya in which a buried Church has been found that dates to 100’s of years before Christianity ever reached the continent. Interested Merrin agrees, under the supervision of the British Army the Church is totally excavated, the native tribe the Turkana are afraid of the Church & warn of great evil. Once inside Merrin discovers that it was once used for evil sacrifice & that terrifying demonic forces have been unleashed, demonic forces that Merrin has to use his faith to conquer…Originally set to be directed by John Frankenheimer who stepped down just before he died & then Paul Shrader was hired & finished the film, however Morgan Creek the production company fired him after not liking his version at all & hired Renny Harlin to turn in a much more audience friendly supernatural horror thriller with copious amounts of blood & gore which Shrader’s version apparently lacked. About 10% of Shrader’s original cut made it into this & I have never seen Shrader’s version which has been released separately as Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005) so I don’t know how that turned out but I have to say I enjoyed Exorcist: The Beginning much, much more than I expected & I’d even go as far as to say it’s a damned fine horror film in it’s own right. The script by Alexi Hawley is actually a fairly engrossing & deep supernatural horror thriller that delivers some good shock’s, gore & chill’s. The story is surprisingly intelligent, don’t get me wrong as you don’t need a degree in rocket science to follow or understand it but as far as Hollywood horror films go there’s a good story which works on several levels with good character’s, good dialogue & a tight taught plot. It’s obviously more expansive than the original & goes into the origins of the demonic force, it works very well on it’s own & when viewed as part of the Exorcist series which lets face it is hit & miss anyway. A really good film, better than I expected & the executives at Morgan Creek made the right call giving both Shrader’s & his boring version the boot.Director Harlin does a good job & the film looks very slick & has plenty of atmosphere. The film looks great with nice locations, great sets with the old Church in particular looking good & the CGI computer effects are also very good. There’s some really good gore here as well, from bones sticking out of people’s skin, horribly mutilated bodies strung up with birds pecking it’s eye out, people shooting themselves through the head, a gory battle sequence, slashed throats, a still-born baby covered in maggots & more. There’s a nice creepy feel to the film as well, there is a definite supernatural feel to it & a cool ending as Merrin comes up against the demon who has possessed someone.According to the IMDb Harlin’s version cost around $50,000,000 & it certainly looks impressive, it’s well made with good scope & scale. Shot on location in Morocco & in Italy. There’s a good cast here & the acting is good from all involved so I have no complaints on that front. Alan Ford perhaps better known as Brick Top from the brilliant Snatch (2000) puts in a good shift.Exorcist: The Beginning is a much better film than I expected & for me it has become one of the better big budget Hollywood horror flicks of the past few years as far as I’m concerned. I really liked it which pleasantly surprised me considering it’s production problems. This is a prequel to The Exorcist (1973) which was followed by the dire Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) & the distinctly average The Exorcist III (1990).

  • per-sjoberg
    per sjoberg

    You know you are in trouble when people in the audience start laughing during a HORROR film. This movie is horrible. It is full of clichés and horrible acting. Nobody is really afraid in the film despite all the horrible things that are happening. A boy gets torn apart by wild, over-sized, strange, possessed hyenas and no one seems to be bothered by it. Of course there are several moments when unexpected winds blow open shutters. Mr./ Father Merrin does not seem to be afraid of anything. He goes into scary, dark, crow infested, hidden, demonic, churches at night time. He digs up graves during the middle of the night despite hyenas circling him. Then, after a movie filled with super natural events, he finally becomes SUPER priest. It is a shame that his movie is so bad. I want to cry.

  • jemal-gogize
    jemal gogize

    Exorcist: The Beginning is better then the second one but its worse then the third and does not come close of approaching the original. Long before Father Merrin tried to drive the devil out of Linda Blair in The Exorcist, the two had a previous encounter in Africa just after World War 2. Exorcist: The Beginning is a prequel that shows this early battle with actor Stellan Skarsgård playing the young preacher. The plot sounds interesting and it had potential to be really scary. However, this film has gone through a lot of rewrites and re-shoots and it shows as this movie is kind of a mess. It starts off slow and then it starts to pick up but the ending is kind of disappointing. The special effects look really bad and cheesy. Also some of the “intense” scenes just generate laughs. There were some scary moments but nothing special or really original. It was kind of predictable because there aren’t that many characters. There are a lot of flashbacks scenes of children being killed though which is sad and kind of offensive. Renny Harlin did a decent job but he didn’t exactly try anything new and it all seems similar to the first movie. The film runs for 113 minutes and that makes the film really boring and the pacing slow. The acting is okay, which is amazing considering its a horror movie. I had never heard of Stellan Skarsgård before watching this film and he isn’t that bad. Also the setting is very creepy and they did a good job on that. Rating 4/10 a few scares and {if its the last one} a sad way to close out a franchise that should have never extended past the original.

  • eveliina-peltola
    eveliina peltola

    First of all, do not go in expecting a Shakespearian drama. This is a Renny Harlin directed horror film, and his tastes are not in that direction. Secondly, this is not a teen slasher film populated with WB stars in their early twenties. Once you understand that, you may enjoy it more. That said, I highly enjoyed the film. Stellan Skarsgard was excellent in the role of a young Father Merrin. In fact he reminded of Max VOn Sydow’s performance. This film makes many interesting connections to the 1973 classic. In addidtion there are quite a scares (or at least the person sitting next to me thought so counting by the number of times she kept jumping and trying to curl herself into a ball)and the level of intensity is rather high. So do i recommend this film. Yes. In my opinion, if you watched this film followed by The Exorcist and then The Exorcist III (avoid part II: The Heretic at all costs) you would have quite a horror trilogy to enjoy (especially if you watch all three in the dark)

  • andrew-wright
    andrew wright

    Ah, opening night at midnight. Any better time to see the movies? Especially horror movies. Maybe that’s what got to me, because I am a little surprised by the rating of 4.7. I thought this had to be the best Exorcist sequel. The first is the best of course, then “the Beginning”, then “The Herotic”, and the third one come in place. That’s just my opinion.This movie scared the crap out of me. I was screaming and so was the other audience members. A group of teens walked out saying “This is too scary for me, man!”. Of course it could of been a joke but I doubt it. There was more than a few screams and jumps. The ending gets to be more great than the beginning. So, give it a chance.8/10

  • janice-robinson
    janice robinson

    In this prequel to the classic horror ‘The Exorcist’ we meet Father Merrin during a phase of his life where he has lost his faith. Stellan Skarsgard plays this role excellently and is easy to relate to the character we know from the original film, when he joins a British excavation in Kenya where a Christian church has been unearthed. Beneath the church lies the dormant horror that Father Merrin seems destined to meet.The direction is stylish, the cast are very strong, especially Skarguard, D’Arcy and Scorupco; and the film delivers background story and horror far more convincingly than i ever believed it would.7/10

  • jesus-richardson
    jesus richardson

    The movie centers about Priest Merrin (Stellan Skargard) who’s assigned by Vatican to solve the enigma upon a buried church and built on Turkana (Kenya) . He’s helped for other priest (James Dárcy) and a nurse (Isabella Scorupco). They will have to take on Lucifer and evil forces . The fight will be terrible . The final showdown between the starring Father and the devil is terrific and spooky .This is a horrifying and startling story about possession with usual poltergeist phenomenon caused by the supernatural demon . From start movie to finish the screams , chilling frames and the scary scenes are unstoppable . This prequel blends terror , suspense , horror , shocks , strong emotions and lots of gore . The picture has violent shots , as a child has been eaten by African dogs or another one making himself savage acts , for that reason the film is rated ¨R¨ , because of the violence and crude murders are extreme and isn’t apt for boys , nor squeamish . The original Exorcist (by William Friedkin) film spread a wave of demonic possessions movies that continues unbated today , such as : ¨The changeling¨ , ¨Amytiville¨ series , ¨Darkness¨ ; besides the sequels as ¨Exorcist II¨ (by John Boorman) , ¨Exorcist III¨ (by William Peter Blatty) and prequels ¨Dominion¨ and ¨The beginning¨ . This rare film not for squeamish and is inferior to ¨Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist¨ by Paul Schrader , being shot at the same time , remaining Schrader’s version for the market video . 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 , creepy music and intelligence by director Renny Harlin , all combined to make it an acceptable film . The motion picture achieved success in the box office but inferior to the first Exorcist , but more than Exorcist II (John Boorman) and Exorcist III (William Peter Blatty) which obtained flops . Trevor Ravin music and Vittorio Storaro cinematography are excellent . Rennie Harlin direction is middling ; however , the flick will appeal to terror and Exorcist series fans . 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 . Rating: 5.5 /10 . Passable .

  • felicia-fuentes
    felicia fuentes

    I had at least expected EXORCIST – THE BEGINNING to be somewhat faithful to the original movie. The CGI-created camera swoop over the opening massacre dashed that hope. The gritty realism of THE EXORCIST is absent here. What we have is yet another special effects-laden spectacle along the lines of THE MUMMY, much darker, but no less stupid.Renny Harlin proves once again he was born to direct beer commercials. He seems to have no concept of camera movement, editing, timing, pacing or much of anything. It’s like giving a first year film student $50 million and saying “make this into a movie.” He tries to impress, and fails. His camera moves for no reason, he cuts to close-ups at inappropriate moments, ends scenes prematurely, and guides the actors to deliver more bad performances then any one movie should have to bear.There is one genuinely unsettling moment, when a mother gives birth to a rotten fetus covered in maggots, but pretty much all the other “scares” and attempts at tension or suspense fall flat. There are the usual cheap shots, such as loud bursts of music and slamming doors, and some second rate CGI sequences that look like rejected effects from THE HULK. Kind of hard to be horrified by the sight of a little boy being ripped to pieces by hyenas when the scene looks like it belongs in a video game.The screenplay is needlessly convoluted, perhaps to cover up the fact that the writer can’t write dialog to save his life. Throw in a few battle scenes and a sand storm and maybe no one will notice how much the story sucks. Characters are introduced into the story for next to no reason. The female doctor serves little purpose other than to look pretty and take a three second long shower. She does play an “important” role in the finale, but only through a ridiculous and pointless contrivance which reeks of hack work. The British officer who sends Merrin on his quest in the beginning shows up again so he can kill himself after his butterfly collection comes to life. Oooooo, scary.EXORCIST – THE BEGINNING makes EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC seem not so bad. I am not sure where the writers of this drivel got the idea that the character of Father Merrin ever lost his faith. It is repeatedly referenced in THE EXORCIST book and the movie EXORCIST II that Merrin exorcised a Syrian demon named Pazuzu from an African boy while he was working as a missionary in Africa; yet here, Merrin is an atheist and they seem to fighting Lucifer himself. I thought this was supposed to be an actual prequel to THE EXORCIST, but it seems more like an episode of THE ADVENTURES OF YOUNG FATHER MERRIN. This story was covered better and more intelligently in EXORCIST II, as flawed a movie as it may be.This is definitely one to skip. I didn’t have to worry about ruining the ending for you because I didn’t make it that far. I don’t remember the last time I gave up on a movie. This is one for the record.EXORCIST – THE BEGINNING is the pits.

  • koralia-sumeonidou
    koralia sumeonidou

    Number one on Entertainment Weekly’s list of the scariest movies of all time. Number 196 of the top 250 movies as rated by fans on the IMDb.com database. Number one R-rated film of all-time if adjusted for inflation. Banned in several countries including the United Kingdom. Possibly the scariest and most controversial film ever made. The movie was The Exorcist, the horror film about a possessed child that took the world by storm in 1973. Those of us lucky enough to see the film in a packed theatre or to have lived through its release will never forget the experience. News about paramedics being on hand in major cities to handle the panic stricken and reports of people fainting in theaters were rampant. Religious leaders like Billy Graham condemned the film claiming the movie itself to be possessed by the devil and there were rumors of a curse put upon the production crew that grew increasingly elaborate with every broken telephone connection.All the hype and hysteria lead to buckets and buckets of cash for the Warner Bros. Studio and then two inferior sequels (which seem to be the right of passage for a film in this genre). Restored in 2003, director William Friedkin added some ‘never-before-seen’ footage and re-released The Exorcist theatrically. Its second run scared up another $40 million to add to its already impressive cume. So based on a franchise that fizzled out with the third installment in 1990 only to be resurrected with the 30-year anniversary DVD edition of the original, Hollywood has decided to go back and try and breathe new life into the series by telling the story of Father Merrin before he encountered the possessed Regan MacNeil in the apt titled Exorcist: The Beginning.Going backwards in time is usually easier for filmmakers as they don’t have to deal with leftover character explanations or story plots that still needed resolve. But this was the least of the films production problems. First were the revolving door of directors attached to the project including John Frankenheimer who stepped down from the production eerily just before his death. Then Paul Schrader (Auto Focus) came on board and shot an entire film. Studio executives were however unimpressed with the lack of scares and gore and greenlit the film to be re-made again under the helm of Renny Harlin (Cliffhanger). Harlin re-shot the entire film incorporating only a few scenes from the original Schrader version. The next obstacle was with the availability of the actors for a second full shooting schedule. When Gabriel Mann was unable to reprise his role due to a scheduling conflict, another actor, namely James Darcy from Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World was brought on board to replace him. Other actors and actresses and additional story lines were added to help shape Harlin’s new vision and voila,…two versions of a film to make the perfect 2-sided DVD (Like that will ever happen!).Whether Schrader’s version will ever see the light of day is unknown and that is too bad, for in the interim, we are left with a shell of a film that is so misguided and uninteresting, it made Scary Movie look like an Oscar contender. For those of you who caution to comment that no film could ever live up to the original, I argue that this movie stands on its own to being the worst of in the series and maybe even one of the worst films of 2004.Exorcist: The Beginning centers on the Father Merrin character. Here, he is not far removed from the brutality he witnessed during World War II and his faith has severely waned. While aimlessly drifting through Egypt, Merrin is contracted to help in the excavation of a church that has been uncovered as part of an archaeological dig in Kenya. As their desecration begins, an evil is unleashed unto the land with unspeakable force. How much force you ask? Well, enough force to cause the MPAA of slapping a NC-17 rating on the film unless specific cuts were made. As Merrin continues his research strange things begin to happen to the village. Tribesmen fall into uncontrollable seizures, hyenas begin lurking amongst the workers and after a young boy is torn apart, his younger brother seems to be in a state reminiscent of Regan MacNeil. While the everyone from the Vatican to the British Army tries to interfere with the progress or the information being released as part of the dig, Merrin and the local doctor (Izabella Scorpuco) defy the warning signs of evil as they try to put the pieces of the churches puzzle together. For a movie that is suppose to scare the pants off us, I didn’t even feel a tug at my zipper. I was actually surprised at the lack of scares and how the film tried to resort to the usual tricks to try and induce jumps. Clocks that stop ticking, crosses that turn upside down when you’re not looking and doors that open and close on their own have all been done before and wouldn’t scare even my young nephew despite the fact that with each attempt they blast a sound bit so loud that it’s obvious that they felt they needed the help. Also crippling the films credibility were the below average special effects. The hyenas were so CGI as to be distracting and the possessed individual in the final chapter comes after Father Merrin like something out of the Evil Dead series. In maybe the most ridiculous scene in the film, dead butterflies stuck to a hobby board begin fluttering. Scary indeed.Maybe the filmmakers should have taken a look at the history of church related mysteries in the past five years. The Order and Stigmata proved that people are no longer interested in seeing religiously overtoned thrillers. Maybe the real horrors of war and its atrocities being broadcast over our breakfast tables have us more grounded in present day repugnance. It would not be fair to bark at the acting in Exorcist: The Beginning simply because Stellan Skarsgård and company have so little to work with, they don’t seem to be interested in their roles and let’s face it – it’s hard to take the bull by the horns when the bull is a donkey. For all my bitching and complaining, I will give this stinker a ½ star. I did like the opening that had a wide angled shot that takes place after a war leaving thousands dead or dying on the battleground, and I will admit to not seeing the twist at the end of the film even if it was for lack of interest. But ½ star or no stars, my hopes is that people read this review and spare themselves the wallet ravaging to give this dog the box office it deserves.

  • jessica-holloway
    jessica holloway

    Exorcist: The Beginning is a prequel to one of the best known horror films of the 20th Century. This time around Stellan Skaarsgard steps into the Father Merrin role that was originally played by another Swedish actor Max Von Sydow. Lancaster Merrin is a priest who lost his faith due to a horrific act that occurred during the war. He is now just simply an archaeologist investigating a strange discovery. In the African desert a church was uncovered. A 1,500 year old church that was so perfectly preserved that it appears to have been buried the moment it was finished. A sequence of events tests Merrin’s limits as he uncovers the truth behind the evil at work. It covers the events referred to in the original film, Merrin’s first exorcism and his meeting with Pazuzu.I was skeptical at first due to the nasty problems that plagued the film (namely the original version was shot by Paul Schrader who was later tossed out by Warner and replaced by Renny Harlin, who dumped most of Schrader’s version and re-shot a different script} and just the fact that it had hard shoes to film. But when I saw it in the theater I was pleasantly surprised to see a film with some excellent performances (Skaarsgard in particular) and several decent “boo” scenes and an overall satisfactory atmosphere and very strong sound effects track. A few minor quibbles aside, mostly due to CGI believability that don’t detract too much from this decent scary movie.

  • mr-omar-benjamin-md
    mr omar benjamin md

    Words cannot describe the atrosity I just bared witness to. This movie was absolutely horrible. Every single time there seemed to be a little tension building it amounted to nothing but crap. And the good/evil duel between Merrin and the demon at the end had to be the most comical piece of filming in movie history. It looked almost identical to a Neo vs Agent Smith showdown from The Matrix. LoL every time the demon would fly towards Merrin he would counterattack with a prayer or holy water and the demon woman would go flying like 50 feet against the other side of the wall. Oh the humanity. Hopefully the other version will be watchable. This one was definitely the funniest of the year.

  • sherry-dickerson
    sherry dickerson

    I just completed watching both versions, and I must say that Beginning by far out weighs Dominion. I can understand where Dominion was trying to go, and not very far without funding. Harlin’s version offers a much more believable character in Merrin with the flash backs and use of photography.I believe that the characters presented by Schrader are far more simple and naive, lacking depth and intenseness into their roles. The only people that have fear of the church are the (Tikati), whereas in Hanlin’s at least the young priest has knowledge and some fear of the powers in play.Schrader’s version does do a better job extending the description of the ritual execution of the British soldiers in the church, however the church itself lacks the presence and ambiance of holiness.Schrader’s Satan is to Buddhist looking and the use of the red-eyes is lame at best.Harlin’s use of the lady doctor and her husband are absolutely perfect and highly unexpected. Excellent job.While I can’t consider the Beginning to be a true prequel to the original, it’s story is by far easier to fall into than Schrader’s.Choosing between Beginning v. Dominion is easy…Dominion = Concept to be sold to the studio Executives as in a pilotBeginning = Final Cut and masterfully acted.

  • stephanie-brown-dds
    stephanie brown dds

    I have read many of the comments concerning this movie and find that I tend to feel that this movie should not be judged in relation to the first. This movie stands out on its own by reviewing Father Merrin’s life long before his fateful encounter with Regan years later. My son Nathan and daughter Ryann both found this too scary for them and felt it was far more scarier than the first. I saw it to be more historical and would judge it on that content. Yes, people are right in their comments about all the gore and vileness, but I saw that in the first movie in 1973 when it came out. I’m going to venture to say that people are turned off by this movie simply because it in no way resembles the original. This is the part where a director steps back and quits trying to leech off the first success. Give him some credit about trying to diversify this movie for the audience. Don’t go in with any type of preconceived notion about the original or you will be disappointed like the rest in these comments. It is a good movie and well worth seeing. Mark Lockwood, Lubbock Tx…

  • matthew-aguilar
    matthew aguilar

    There’s no denying that this Exorcist prequel is surplus to requirements in terms of movies that needed to be made; but in spite of that, it’s actually not bad at all. The film was never going to be received well, due to the fact that it’s a prequel to one of the greatest horror movies ever made, and of course the whole Paul Schrader fiasco; but I’m happy to report that The Exorcist: The Beginning has risen from amidst the chaos and turned out to be a very decent horror movie. The action takes place before the events of the classic 70’s movie, but it still follows the same character – Father Merrin, who was played by the great Max Von Sydow in the original, and is brought to life by Stellan Skarsgård in this movie. We follow him as he joins a British expedition in Kenya after an ancient church that has been buried underground for hundreds of years has been uncovered. You know what’s coming, and this discovery is a springboard for all kinds of evil to be inflicted on the surrounding village.The film really falls down on the character side, as we never really get to know any of them and with the possible slight exception of the lead; not a single one has any depth. That’s unimportant, however, as this film’s main focus is definitely the atmosphere; and it’s suitably malevolent throughout, which does the film no end of favours. The action is very slow, especially for the first hour, but it hardly matters as watching the plot bathe in the atmosphere is always entertaining enough, and while it is slow you can always count on something to happen that will get the excitement levels back up. The film features several shocking and disturbing sequences, my personal favourite being the hyena attack; with the stillborn birth coming a close second. The CGI in the film leaves a lot to be desired, especially on the aforementioned hyena attack, but the effects aren’t too much of an important element anyway. When the film boils down to it’s ending is when it really lets rip, and the final fifteen minutes or so deliver some really great horror. While this film doesn’t even nearly touch the original; it’s much better than you would think considering all the turmoil surrounding the release and on the whole I give it a thumbs up!

  • mariah-howard
    mariah howard

    I watched Schrader’s “Dominion” in the morning and Harlin’s “Beginning” in the afternoon, hoping that watching them back to back would make a comparison easier than for most people who waited a year until the deleted version by Schrader was finally released. Renny Harlin used only a few minutes from the already existing footage, so “Beginning” really became a new movie. But unfortunately, the whole effort of re-shooting didn’t make the movie better.In Harlin’s “remake”, we get a smart young priest, straight from the Vatican (James D’Arcy) who has received all the information about the buried church in advance. In “Dominion”, Gabriel Mann played an innocent priest who does not expect anything terrible, he just wants to start a school in the middle of Africa. The latter was the better screenplay idea in my opinion, because D’Arcy is such a cool “professional” that we don’t really care about him, whereas Mann was a character the audience loves for his human feelings. Also there is more mystery in “Domionion” whereas “Beginning” once explained the whole background, and that was it – too easy.”Beginning” has a lot more gory effects, swarms of ugly insects and its demon uses obscenities in same way Linda Blair did in the original “Exorcist” movie. This will probably entertain people who just want a horror movie and nothing else. Mind you, “Beginning” also has good photography, a few unforgettable moments like the battlefield at the beginning and good actors! But the release of the original version “Dominion” proved that the story has had more potential, Schrader worked more careful with the characters and their relationships and gave more food for thought. I voted 6/10 for “Beginning” and 8/10 for “Dominion”.

  • helena-merino-mateo
    helena merino mateo

    Director Renny Harlin creates an intriguing, interesting prequel to the events shown in The Exorcist and its two sequels. This film follows Father Merrin to East Africa, initially having given up his priesthood, where his expertise has been called upon to explain some ancient temple that had been unearthed from the sand and dirt at a major archaeological dig site. The temple is in pristine shape and has some major anti-Church motifs abounding. Merrin soon realizes a demon exists and…well, you get the general picture. This film worked for me for a number of reasons: it is story driven as well as effects driven, it has solid acting, great location shots, and a strangely, highly flawed script that does create interest. The last half of the film begins to bog down under the weight of some of the makeup and special effects, but never to the point of overtaking the film and its atmosphere. And atmosphere is one thing this film has plenty of. I especially liked the way the character of Father Merrin was treated. He is a flawed man with an interesting past that the film delves into through flashbacks. These flashback scenes are effectively done and help make Merrin all the more real. The acting of Stellan Skarsgard in the role is the film’s principal strength along with some innovative camera-work. Sure, much of the script is hokey hooey and will not make terribly much sense – I’m still not sure what happened in the end, but the film works nonetheless for the aforementioned reasons. I was pleasantly surprised despite some pre-conceived ideas going into the film.

  • jason-carr
    jason carr

    After a prologue showing a priest walking through the results of an astonishing massacre, we meet a young Father Merrin (Stellan Skarsgard) not long after he’s abandoned his faith and is considering himself an archaeologist rather than a priest. Merrin is asked in his new capacity to travel to British East Africa, where a Christian church has been discovered 1500 years older than any church in the area should be. He’s specifically asked to find a particular relic/statue–of Pazuzu, the infamous demon from the Exorcist films. The bulk of Exorcist: The Beginning has Merrick in what has come to be known as Kenya, exploring the bizarre occurrences surrounding the town where the church is located, the other European residents, the natives, and of course the church itself.Series note: Since this is well set up as a prequel, I recommend watching Exorcist: The Beginning as the first film in the series. There is no need to watch any of the other Exorcist films before you see this one.This film is getting knocked a lot, but I can’t help thinking that much of it might stem from the fact that Morgan Creek initially had Paul Schrader shoot the film, then canned the result when he turned in his cut. It was said that they believed Schrader’s version wasn’t “visceral” enough. So they hired Renny Harlin to direct and had a completely new script written, although one still based on novelist Caleb Carr’s initial treatment, which he wrote after finding an older script that had been languishing in Morgan Creek’s vaults, or “tomb”, as he calls it (Carr has been employed as a “script polisher” for Morgan Creek). In any event, I agree that Morgan Creek’s actions were loathsome, especially their eventual decision to not include Schrader’s version on the same DVD as Harlin’s (initially they had promised this, but it seems that they have some other scheme in mind for trying to recoup some of the money sunk into the fiasco). But I don’t agree that Morgan Creek’s actions make Harlin’s film bad by association. It isn’t. In fact, this is an excellent film that comes just short of being a 10 out of 10.Harlin’s effort certainly is visceral–wonderfully so. He lets us know this from the first frames by showing us the haggard priest’s face overbaked by desert sun and wind and then pulling back to a wider shot showing the massacred bodies. The film has an incredible visual style. The gorier aspects are extremely well done–always servicing the story and having maximum impact. The special effects are often subtle and for my money, the sparse use of cgi (most noticeably with the hyenas) is handled brilliantly.The current trend towards monochromatic cinematography is strongly present, but rather than overused blues, Harlin has cinematographer Vittorio Storaro embed us in browns/sepia tones and grays with many scenes having very deep shadows. Harlin has said that he was aiming for the look at the end of Apocalypse Now (1979), when Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) finally encounters Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) in Kurtz’ compound. It was probably no accident then that Storaro was chosen, as he was also the cinematographer on that Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece. Amusingly, Harlin and Storaro reference Apocalypse Now many times during Exorcist: The Beginning. For example, we get shots looking at Father Merrin from above a ceiling fan. One sequence is even constructed similarly to the opening scene of Apocalypse Now and ends with Father Merrin breaking a mirror.But Harlin references all of the Exorcist films to date as well. This helps integrate Exorcist: The Beginning into the mythos of the series, deepening the stylistic and subtextual ties. The bulk of The Beginning can be scene as an extension of the middle section of John Boorman’s severely under-appreciated Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977). Although the details may have been changed, The Beginning’s plot is very similar to Merrin’s trek to Africa to explore a mysterious church in Boorman’s film. The only thing lamentably missing is a reference to locusts, or the locust man. Harlin also gives us an excellent asylum scene and more subtle nurse references that are reminiscent of The Exorcist III (1990). And of course there are numerous references to the “big daddy”, The Exorcist (1973). These range from admirable small details, such as the supernaturally halting pendulum, to major plot elements, such as Pazuzu and a possessed woman looking and sounding very similar to a pea soup-vomiting Regan (Linda Blair).Although an artistic triumph, Harlin may have chosen a hurdled route in presenting a film that is often “difficult”. He doesn’t pander to shortened attention spans or a need for a clearly linear, simple plot line. The pacing of many scenes is not what most viewers would expect, but it’s always right for the scene, at least in retrospect. The cast turns in complex performances, and Harlin requires that you pay rapt attention to visual cues–silence is often stretched while narrative is conveyed in a manner closer to a silent film. Part of Harlin’s more studied approach may have been due to an attempt to bridge the style and language of film-making circa 1973 with modern sensibilities. Whatever the motivation, it works, but Exorcist: The Beginning isn’t exactly a “popcorn film”.The most obvious themes and subtexts are those related to faith and the nature of evil, but Exorcist: The Beginning also has interesting things to say about European colonization and domination of non-European cultures and religious and other cultural appropriation/absorption of preexisting Others. The latter subtext is interestingly present in a very literal way in the church that is the focus of the film.But the primary attraction is the emotionally dark face of Exorcist: The Beginning, and its comfortable place in a very unusual series of films. Don’t let Hollywood’s behind-the-scenes blunders dissuade you, this is a film that deserves to be watched and appreciated.

  • daniel-fowler
    daniel fowler

    First, let me say that I didn’t know Dominion existed until I discovered it going through the program guide. I started watching and man was I confused! I though that there was ANOTHER prequel that I didn’t know about, until I continued to watch. Dominion seemed to me like a movie made out of pieces of film on the floor of the editing room. Clara Bellar’s acting was awful in my opinion. I was completely distracted by her performance as well as several others.While not a true horror movie, I really enjoyed The Beginning. I’ve watched it many times and found it very suspenseful. It kept my attention. I enjoyed the actors and the story. I’ve watched it over ten times and the scenes where Father M had to choose those to die? Chilling. Who wouldn’t lose faith? The boy being torn apart? There were some good scenes.Peace

  • amanda-silva
    amanda silva

    It is a pity this movie is so underrated, but I think the main reason for that is the fact that people judge the movie before seeing it, so they won’t watch it objectively. Another reason perhaps is the adventurous style of the film, but it is acceptable because father Merrin is younger than in the original film. The best actor to portray a young father Merrin is certainly the wonderful Stellan Skarsgård, what a stylish performance, this superb actor gives such a perfect image of how the main character would have been at the moment in his life when he lost his faith. The two other most important roles by Izabella Scorupco and James D’Arcy are excellent, the best supporting role is performed by Alan Ford. The madness and the confusion in the final battle between the Turkana and the Brithish are convincingly brought to screen. As for the crew members, I was very impressed by Trevor Rabin his soundtrack, the production design of Stefano Maria Ortolani and the magnificent cinematography by Vittorio Storaro. Conclusion: if you watch this film objectively than you will probably enjoy it. All though sometimes over the top, Renny Harlin has made a good prequel to the original one, with some very memorable scenes.