Exorcist: The Beginning [DVD]
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Africa, 1949 and Father Merrin (Stellan Skarsgård), his faith shattered by World War II, journeys to Kenya to join an archaeological dig that has uncovered a Byzantine church mysteriously untouched by the ravages of time. But an even greater mystery awaits: an ancient and horrific evil is now awakened and a soul-shattering death spree begins. Can Merrin summon the faith and courage to defeat humanity's oldest and most powerful foe?
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The script is not unpredictable (some scenes veer into being slightly silly) and the exorcism almost feels crowbarred in, like someone's said "we need to have an exorcism". It also feels like they've said "it needs to feel more closely tied to the original 'Exorcist' movie" as several moments evoke direct comparisons with character appearances and dialogue. However, it's a more kinetic, violent, shocking experience. Admittedly we're firmly into pulp territory here (with a fair helping of unnecessary and sometimes badly finished CGI), but it's enjoyable pulp. Just don't expect anything that's trying to make a serious point or come anywhere near the level of the original Exorcist, or you'll be sorely disappointed.
Anyway, The Exorcist The Beginning charts Father Merrin from the original Exorcist hired to find an artifact in the ruins of an ancient church somewhere in Africa after the Second World War and discovering that this place is where Lucifer fell to Earth upon being cast out from heaven. Some of the CGI effects are a little ropey, most of the other special effects are perfectly fine, the story is also perfectly acceptable although I would agree with another respondent that the final scene is over long and rather over done. It's not the original Exorcist of course but who expected that? It's just a reasonably good horror film about the devil, possession etc with nods to both The Exorcist and The Omen amongst others and is an entertaining two hours or so watch.
Watch it for the nasty scene's at least, its well worth it
Like all the Exorcist sequels it is flawed but it is a gem nonetheless.
Nothing can compare to the original classic movie - but all the subsequent movies are pretty good and they certainly stand up well when compared to the woeful Jaws sequels (bar Jaws 2 which was good). Or the closest relation - The Omen movies. The original movie is a classic gem of horror and suspense and the second one was good. But - "oh my" - the third installment. Not so good. And the "fourth" (oh dear) so called Omen movie? Lets not go there, okay?
I would watch this movie and Dominion and enjoy them on their own merits. I found the possessed woman in "The Beginning" somewhat trying as I found the possessed boy in "Dominion" trying as well. And both movies are pretty convoluted.
My advice would be to get a box set of all the movies and see them together and watch them individually.
You are bound to get something from all the subsequent movies. The Exorcist III is pretty scary in places and very tense.
My one big criticism of the prequel movies is that they do not have a straight forward demon possession thread running through them - so that aspect does get somewhat buried among the incidental sub plots.
Nevertheless - the story of a man struggling with a terrible guilt set against ancient adversaries is intriguing and inventive.
But you might not realize you were watching an Exorcist movie however and this is why I have marked it down.
Aside from the Exorcist references such as the Babylonian-like nods (why didn't they go with that? Why not move the action to the Middle East with is ancient biblical deities?) of the original and the possessed Regan-like woman - this movie is a substantial horror flick of it's own with some shocks up it's sleeve.
It has a lot of merits that stand it in good stead.
The cast is outstanding - the fantastic Stellan Skarsgard deserves to be commended for his excellent performance. We also have the British actor's Julian Wadham (brilliant), James D'Arcy and Ralph Brown too.
Over all - this is a good movie with a great cast and I hope you enjoy it.
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