Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)

exorcist the beginning poster 2004 movie
3.0 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 6/10

Better visuals than Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist

Boring, long, bad story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Exorcist:  The Beginning

Studio:  Morgan Creek Productions

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  August 20, 2004

MPAA Rating:  R

exorcist the beginning stellan skarsgard pazuzu

Hey, Pazuzu…imagine meeting you down here

Father Lankester Merrin (Stellan Skarsgård) is a priest who has lost his faith.  Now, Merrin has been contacted to retrieve artifacts from a strange Christian temple deep in Kenya.  The temple shouldn’t be there, and Merrin sets out to find out why the temple was built and buried.  Joined by a fellow priest named Father Francis (James D’Arcy) and a doctor named Sarah (Izabella Scorupco), Merrin discovers horror when the temple is unlocked.  Finding a shrine to the demon Pazuzu underneath the church, Merrin finds himself dealing with a boy named Joseph (Remy Sweeney) who seems to be possessed by something evil…and Merrin must find his faith to save him.

Directed by Renny Harlin, Exorcist:  The Beginning is a horror movie prequel to the 1973 film The Exorcist.  The movie was made after the first version filmed by Paul Schrader (also starring Stellan Skarsgård) was shelved by the studio.  The movie at points reuses images shot for Schrader’s version, but in general, the story is a new more horror based story.  Exorcist:  The Beginning was met with poor reviews and is generally considered by critics to be worse than Schrader’s Dominion:  Prequel to the Exorcist which was released the following year.

exorcist the beginning hyena attack

Who’s laughing now, kid!

I love the style and the tone of The ExorcistExorcist II:  The Heretic was one of the worse sequels ever made.  The Exorcist III had some great moments, but for the most part could be written off as well.  Here, you have a movie that isn’t as bad as two, but definitely doesn’t rank as high as The Exorcist III.

The biggest problem with Exorcist:  The Beginning is that it is as boring as the hell it pretends to induce.  The movie plods along with a few jumps, but for the most part, the movie is dull, dull, dull.  The film tried to ramp up the horror from Shrader’s version, but failed miserably.  The end sequence with the exorcism has more horror than Dominion, but is often laughable.

Stellan Skarsgård is really the only redeeming quality of this film.  He does a great job as a fill in for Max Von Sydow…probably due to their similar background.  He does struggle more in this version of the film than in Dominion, and it must be nerve-racking to have to replay a character with different motivations and character arcs.  James D’Arcy doesn’t get much of an opportunity to expand on his role.  Izabella Scorupco as the secretly possessed Sarah has some fun with her role at the end when she gets to ham it up.

exorcist the beginning ending izabella scorupco

I find this exercise really focuses on my core and gives me a real workout

Visually, it is obvious that Exorcist:  The Beginning had a bigger budget for effects than Dominion, but the effects still look bad.  The hyena are still very fake looking, and the possessed Sarah at the end of the film looks computer generated (when doing impossible movements).  You look at the original Exorcist which still holds up visually and you look at the make-up here, and it hasn’t passed 1973 standards.

Exorcist:  The Beginning is worse than Dominion:  Prequel to the Exorcist, but neither movie is a great film.  I wish that the best aspects of both Dominion and The Beginning were combined into a better film, but it wasn’t to be.  Don’t bother with Dominion or The Beginning and just stick to The Exorcist.  It is a classic and good…neither things can be said about Exorcist:  The Beginning.

Related Links:

Dominion:  Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)

The Exorcist (1973)

Exorcist II:  The Heretic (1977)

The Exorcist III (1990)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @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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