Exorcist: The Beginning
exorcist: the beginning | the exorcist | prequel | renny harlin | alexi hawley | Stellan Skarsgård | stellan skarsgard | izabella scorupco | james d'arcy | mystery | thriller | united states | possession | possessed | demon | ritual
Film: Exorcist: The Beginning
Director: Renny Harlin
Writer: Alexi Hawley
Starring: Stellan Skarsgård, Izabella Scorupco and James D’Arcy
This film begins with showing us a desert where there is an army. They are fighting each other and it pans to show us the bloody aftermath, as well as many of them being crucified upside down.
We then shift to our main character, played by Stellan Skarsgård. He meets with a man played by Ben Cross. Cross knows that Skarsgård is a former priest, but wants him to dig up a church in Kenya. It appears there is an artifact there that they want; they do not trust that it will not be looted though. Cross gives a leather impression of it and those that have seen The Exorcist know it is the same statue that is discovered in a different site when the events of that film take place.
Skarsgård goes to meet with the major that is in charge of the area, he is played by Julian Wadham. He has already learned that Skarsgård has been okayed to go to the site. He also knows that Skarsgård is a former priest that has lost his faith. The church has assigned someone that they had working in their archives, this priest played by James D’Arcy. He will be attending the site as well and will be doing missionary work.
They arrive at the town that is near the buried church. Their interpreter is played by Andrew French. They meet the man who is in charge of the dig; he is played by Alan Ford. He is kind of a disgusting man with a nasty sore on his face. There is a woman that is a doctor who is played by Izabella Scorupco. We also meet a father, played by Eddie Osei, who has two sons. He is a Christian and has decided his two sons will be as well. The youngest is played by Remy Sweeney.
They go to the dig site and soon learn that there is something that is not quite right about it. The stones should have been weathered by the age of the church, but it looks like the church was buried immediately after construction. The church is also built long before Christianity was in the area. When do finally go inside, there are murals of the battle of heaven and none of the statues are praising God, they are looking down like they are trying to keep something in.
Skarsgård and Scorupco hit it off. She inquires about him being a priest, which he informs her that he is no longer. There was an incident during the war that caused him to loose his faith when a Nazi, played by Antonie Kamerling, forced him to decide who will die in a village. Scorupco also had her own trauma during the war at a concentration camp. When her husband learned of what happened to her, he no longer to touch her.
The tensions in the village are running high as the African tribe wants everyone to stop digging up the church as they feel it is cursed. There was another man who was leading the dig, but he lost his mind and is now in a hospital in Nairobi. Skarsgård goes to visit him, who is played by Patrick O’Kane, and the man has been touched by the devil. He kills himself in front of Skarsgård. Before he leaves, he meets with a priest that works at the hospital, played by David Bradley. He tells about the evil that touched O’Kane.
More weird things happen like the hyenas being bold and being seen in the daylight. One night they attack Sweeney’s brother, who is played by James Bellamy. They take him away. Sweeney then passes out and there is something wrong with him that is unexplained.
D’Arcy seems to know more about the church than what he is letting on. There have been multiple times of massacres or mass deaths at this area. It is supposed to be the spot that Lucifer landed when he was cast of heaven. The tribe wants to kill the boy, but he is being protected by Skarsgård, Scorupco and D’Arcy. One night they do attempt to kill him, but they are fought off by something.
Is the boy possessed or is something else going on here? What is this evil? Can it be defeated before it is too late? Can it be stopped before everyone creates a massacre like that has happened in the past? Will Skarsgård find his faith before it is too late?
I will lead off stating that I actually saw this film in theaters when it came out and liked it. After learning that there was another version that was created first, I was intrigued, especially since the studio wanted more a bloodier version. I will still state that I do like this version, but I will say that I think Dominion, the other version, is better. This reason is, because I’m much bigger on the story and that one was more of a psychological thriller. The acting in this film is slightly better, as this one has a better cast. Skarsgård does appear in both, but I’m a fan of Scorupco, D’Arcy and Ford as well. This one does seem to fit flowing into The Exorcist than the other version, I will state that. The possession at the end is much closer to what happens in the classic film. This one does go for more of the cheap scares and is bloodier, which I’m not a huge fan of. For this film it didn’t bother me too bad.
As stated I liked this film, but I personally wish that they could combine the best elements of both, I think this film would have be that much better. As stated previously, this story isn’t as good as the other version. I do like a good cheap scare, but I fell like this film based most of its appeal on that as well as the blood and gore. I think not having the natives and soldiers fight made the other version better, but just showing that the build up is there to ramp up the tension. Seeing the two sides fight didn’t really add a lot to the film for me.
Now with that said, I have a hard time deciding which version of this film is better. This one is a bit scarier as stated above, but that doesn’t necessarily make it better. I feel the acting was better in this version of the film though. It does flow better into The Exorcist as well. I definitely recommend if this sounds good to watch both films to compare for yourself. If not, then I would definitely go for the one that aligns closer to what you are interested in. This version is worth a viewing in my opinion, especially if you like the classic original film that this is a prequel to.
My Rating: 6 out of 10