Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) Movie Review
Written by: ML
Edited by: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Renny Harlin
Producers: James G. Robinson
Writers: Alexi Hawley
Date Released: August 20, 2004
Stellan Skarsgård as Father Lankester Merrin
Izabella Scorupco as Sarah
James D’Arcy as Father Francis
Julian Wadham as Major Granville
Andrew French as Chuma
Ben Cross as Semelier
Remy Sweeney as Joseph
David Bradley as Father Gionetti
Alan Ford as Jefferies
Eddie Osei as Emekwi
Rating = 2/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
The story is about Father Merrin’s quest for faith way before his encounter with Regan MacNeil. In this prequel, Father Merrin suffered severe trauma from his experience as a priest during the Nazi era. This is where he lost his faith and turned back from his priesthood. Then he was called to join an excavation in Africa where a mysterious church was buried. During his stay in the small African valley, deaths and strange happenings occurred. These were all blamed on the prime evil in the underground temple beneath the buried church. This is where his first battle with the demon Pazuzu happened. After his successful performance of an exorcism, his faith in God returned.
As with any exorcism movie, this one features random disgusting evildoings. Flies and maggots have been undeniable demonic symptoms. A horde of flies first flew out from the underground temple. Then there’s the maggot-infested stillborn baby and the pus-filled maggot face that Jeffries had before he was brutally killed. His body was gutted and fed to the crows inside the buried church. Probably the most brutal scene was when James was eaten alive by a pack of hyenas. The most bloodshed happened during the war scene between the Turkana and the British Army. There are also insertions of several jump scares within the movie. The most memorable one happened when the body of Father Francis dropped inside the cave.
The Grave Review
Stellan Skarsgård as Father Merrin is probably the only best thing about this movie.
The problem with this installment of the Exorcist franchise is the fact that it focused on the archaeological side of things rather than the demonic possession itself. It is one thing to have an extremely dragging story about the buried church and another thing to have to wait until one hour and thirty minutes into the movie before you can see an actual act of exorcism.
Compared to other exorcism movies where the entire process of possession is slowly showcased, Father Merrin already battled a full-blown possessed person in this one. Nobody will see it coming. No symptoms of early possession. The demon is just there. No why, no how.
Another questionable character is Father Francis. Within the duration of the entire movie, he seems out of touch and appears like mushroom in random scenes. He was not able to help at all except for his holy items that Father Merrin picked up and used for the exorcism. The guide Chuma has more worth.
Because the instant possession and exorcism happened towards the end of the movie, it was so quick and predictable. There should have been a longer struggle because Father Merrin was still in the process of regaining his faith and this demon was supposed to be a strong one.
If there is one good thing about this movie, it is the mystery of finding out the person who is really possessed. Audiences will keep guessing from anyone showing symptoms. It is not until the big reveal towards the end that the true face of evil appears.
The ending is also good in the sense that Father Merrin finally regained his faith and was off to explore exorcism.
Overall, Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) is just fine if you are fan of the Exorcist franchise. If you are a true blue fan of exorcist films and expecting more chilling aspects of demonic possession, this might be a disappointment.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) two graves out of five graves.
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