Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) – a few observations
Renny Harlin’s take on Paul Schrader’s source material is a completely different film. Harlin’s version is a much more straightforward horror picture with graphic gore and a blunt demonic villain. Clearly there was a desire to spice things up over-and-above the content of DOMINION and there’s some half-baked CGI nasties which give the film a tinge of a video game.
Merrin’s redemption , the supposed subject of this entry in the series, is more acute here and far less interesting. Despite this the film succeeds as producers Morgan Creek intended as a shock piece. No little part is played by a cast of strong character actors and a fast-pace.
It’s not as emotionally sophisticated as Shrader’s DOMINION (nor marvellous EXORCIST 3) and cuts short the chilling WW2 courtyard execution scene from Schrader’s effort, but The Beginning was arguably what a decent chunk of exorcist fans were after. The finale is botched but is compensated for by the ancient imagery and swooping camera of the film’s opening scenes of a brutal battlefield between good and evil.
To use an analogy which hopefully makes thing clearer; THE BEGINNING is to THE EXORCIST as DAMIEN: OMEN 2was to THE OMEN. In other words, it’s by no means the lame duck that many critics judge it to be.
Hotdog rating: 6/10