The Exorcist: The Beginning

"Zero"

The Exorcist: The Beginning Review


Repossessed Again By Jeffrey M. Anderson This poor series has gone through nothing but trouble. According to the author of the original book, William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist (1973) was plagued by strange occurrences. The sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) suffered the most horrendous opening in history, and was recalled and re-edited with little success. The third film, Exorcist III, directed by Blatty, went virtually ignored. And now the fourth film has the strangest history of all. Warner Brothers originally commissioned Paul Schrader to direct the film -- a wise move, considering that Schrader is one of the best and gutsiest filmmakers around. He's not only made blistering dramas like Blue Collar and Affliction, but he's also experienced at horror films like Cat People (1982). According to various reports, Schrader finished his film and turned it in. Warner Brothers complained that it was not scary enough and demanded that Schrader do re-shoots. When Schrader refused, they reshot the film with Renny Harlin ( The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Driven ) -- not the greatest director aroundðat the helm. And this is the version that Warner Brothers has decided to release in theaters -- even though they didn't like it enough to screen it for the press. (They screened it on a Thursday night, after most deadlines had past.) Schrader's version still exists, and reports indicate that Warner Brothers will release it later this year on a double-disc DVD set alongside Harlin's version. I have my guess as to which one will be better. Harlin's version plays not unlike Exorcist II. It's a huge mess with passages of great beauty, juxtaposed with a few truly scary moments and a bunch of hokum and stupidity. Stellan Skarsgard stars as a younger version of Father Merrin, the older exorcist played by Max Von Sydow in the 1973 film. Having survived WWII and seen his share of horrors at the hands of the Nazis, Merrin has given up the cloak and become a hard-drinking archeologist. He's hired to travel to Kenya, where an old church has been discovered, to bring back an artifact reported to be inside. When he gets there, he discovers that things are not as they should be. There's a big upside-down cross and the church has been purposely buried. Plus, all kinds of weird things start happening, such as a still-born baby covered with maggots or a previous archeologist gone stark raving mad. Photographed by the extraordinary Vittorio Storaro ( Last Tango in Paris, Apocalypse Now ), the film looks amazing, bathed in sandy golds and shimmering heat. Skarsgard helps with his measured performance of a tormented, brooding, intelligent man. The early passages of quiet detective work and hushed conversations work the best. Then the film goes on a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, mixing brilliantly scary scenes and utterly brain-dead ones. In one silly scene, Merrin wonders about the origin of a series of graves and begins digging them up -- at night. He also digs a perfect rectangle in the dirt before he strikes the coffin lid. Even William Friedkin's original Exorcist isn't really as great as everyone imagines it to be. It's a bit quieter and slower than many films today, and it seems more intelligent, but it's really just a more exaggerated version of a standard gore-fest. In that light, Exorcist: The Beginning doesn't stray too far from the quality of the previous three films. In other words, it doesn't disappoint. Not unless, like me, you were looking forward to the Schrader version.



Facts and Figures

Box Office Worldwide: $78M

Budget: $80M

Production compaines: Dominion Productions, Morgan Creek Productions

Reviews

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Father Merrin, as Sarah, as Father Francis, as Major Granville, as Jefferies, as Joseph, Andrew French as Chuma, as Lieutenant Kessel, as Semelier

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.