Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)

dominion prequel to the exorcist poster 2005 movie
4.5 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 3/10

Decent acting on the part of Skarsgård, better than Exorcist: The Beginning

Poor story and visuals

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  Dominion:  Prequel to the Exorcist

Studio:  Morgan Creek Productions

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  March 18, 2005 (Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival)/May 20, 2005 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

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A perfect time for a sacrifice…

A Christian church has been discovered in Kenya and appears to have been constructed and buried before the wide spread of Christianity.  In charge of the excavation of the church is Father Lankester Merrin (Stellan Skarsgård) under the supervision of Father Francis (Gabriel Mann) and the military leadership of Sgt. Maj. Harris (Ralph Brown).  Merrin is dealing with demons of his own in the form of his involvement with the Nazi slaughter of villagers during World War II.  When Merrin finds a handicapped child named Cheche (Billy Crawford) living in the waste and tries to help him, Merrin discovers horror.  What is hidden in the church is a demon…and now the demon is loose and using Cheche as his vessel.

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This thing was so nasty that they used it in Exorist: The Beginning too

Directed by Paul Schrader, Dominion:  Prequel to the Exorcist was meant to be directed by John Frankenheimer before he dropped out due to health conditions (and later died).  The movie ended up being shelved, and Renny Harlin was brought in to remake the film.  Harlin’s film was released as Exorcist:  The Beginning in 2004.  Harlin’s film received poorer reviews but due to its release was much more successful.

I can remember being hesitant about both Dominion:  Prequel to the Exorcist and Exorcist:  The Beginning when they were talked about.  I see The Exorcist as one of those perfect horror movies which is smart because it combines other aspects into the plot like family drama and faith.  The sequels both were quite weak and two more movies (with production problems) didn’t seem like the solution.

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A movie series known for its effects has come down to this…

Dominion:  Prequel to the Exorcist has some moments.  The movie moves rather slow, but it does manage to build some horror.  This horror however ends in a quite a letdown with a strange battle between the natives, the military, and Merrin and the demon (Pazuzu).  It feels very anticlimactic and the “exorcism” of Cheche just doesn’t match the exorcism of Regan (it also contradicts events of Exorcist II:  The Heretic which virtually makes that poor movie even less relevant).

Stellan Skarsgård does as good as he can as Father Merrin.  It helps that he has a similar background to Max von Sydow who played the role in the original (and Exorcist II:  The Heretic). Skarsgård plays the role both in this version and the Harlin version so it is interesting to compare and contrast the performances and how Merrin is played (he’s even more damaged in Exorcist:  The Beginning).  The rest of the cast doesn’t get much of a chance to really be explored though Gabriel Mann, Clara Bellar, Billy Crawford, and Ralph Brown do decent in their respective roles, this movie really is about Merrin and the movie smartly cast a good actor for it.

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Here’s Cheche!!!

Visually, Dominion:  A Prequel to the Exorcist suffers.  The movie sometimes looks good (love desert like locations and the church set is rather impressive), but other times things like the computer animated hyenas look pretty weak.  Cheche is creepy, but once again doesn’t quite compare to the eerier Regan (though it is fun to see the Pazuzu scary face from the original film make a return).

Dominion:  Prequel to the Exorcist has its moments but isn’t very good.  When compared to Exorcist:  The Beginning, I think Dominion is a touch better.  The movie is more coherent in plot and acting, but still is far from being a good film.  As of now all the demons of The Exorcist have been exorcised so I hope the series can rest, but there has been talk of a TV series so who knows if Pazuzu will ever be stopped.

Related Links:

Exorcist:  The Beginning (2004)

The Exorcist (1973)

Exorcist II:  The Heretic (1977)

The Exorcist III (1990)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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