Exorcist: The Beginning Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 11, 2011
Considering that The Exorcist is one of the greatest horror films that has ever been made, Exorcist-The Beginning is a total disappointment. What surprises me is that the film boasts a good cast. However this film really doesn't cut it as a horror film. The film is supposed to be scary, considering it is a sequel to The Exorcist, which is quite possibly the scariest film ever made. The Beginning should tell the tale of how it all began, right? The film does that, but it never is scary, or brings fear to the audience. The film was fairly predictable, and lacked any effective plot development to build the tension up. Exorcist-The Beginning is a terrible prequel that really doesn't do anything exciting to develop the plot of the series. Hell, if you ask me, The Exorcist should've never had sequels pr a prequel. The film should have been a standalone film. Exorcist-The Beginning is a lazy, unimpressive prequel and it should never have been made. The film suffers from a terrible script and poor direction on behalf of Renny Harlin. The ideas might have been interesting to explore, however the film really doesn't try to deliver anything interesting or thrilling. This film is simply awful, and will disappoint fans of Friedkin's classic film. The film is bad, and has no redeeming aspects going for it. If you're a fan of the original, then skip on this one. You'll be glad you did. The film is pretty boring and won't hold your attention through the very end, I know I had va hard time to stay interested, and it took everything for me to stay focused on this piece of trash.
Super Reviewer
½ June 27, 2007
Oh my goodness! This was like Indiana Jones and the Pazuzu demon! Lots of horror and action sequences, a 1940's desert, Nazis, an underground temple, CGI dogs, evil artifacts, natives vs. the British Army, a huge Evil-Dead showdown at the end, Biblical references - it's all there. There are nice nods to the Exorcist series, though I wish they played the Tubular Bells music at key scenes.. It's a long movie, but more fun than the Dominion movie - a different Exorcist prequel. There weren't many scary scenes, but lots of creepy yuck stuff. They needed more witty dialoge between the priest and demon, and some dream sequences with flashing demon faces.
Super Reviewer
June 23, 2011
From the newest movies I liked this one a lot. Not too many people but I enjoyed. The story of Karras was something that worthed the movie.
Super Reviewer
½ August 8, 2010
08/08/2010 (TELEVISION)

No scares here but there's a story here I was able to follow. It's actually the first time I have watched the whole thing from beginning to end, the first two times I didn't quite make it to the end, but that was back when it was first released.

It takes a while before anything kindled any interest for me but when it started it was enough to make me stay for more.

I only allowed myself to finish the film this time cause I'm trying to watch the complete saga and add my 2 cents on my reviews. Done.
Super Reviewer
April 28, 2007
Exorcist - The Beginning is not a promising proposition. The dreadful title aside, making prequels to accepted classics is NEVER a good idea although I'd have to say that I was never as impressed with the original The Exorcist as everyone else seems to be. It tells the story of how Father Merrin first encounters the demon and why he made hunting it his life's work. All set in the sandblown deserts of Kenya where the demon is unearthed, the one thing this film apes reasonably well is the look of the film, the photography being very attractive and atmospheric but the biggest boost this film receives is in its star; Stellan Skarsgard is a very strong central character who suffers from horrific flashbacks to the atrocities of Nazi Germany that caused him to lose his faith. By far the biggest handicap to the film however is Renny Harlin's inevitable insistence on blockbuster-izing the story making the final showdown look like a battle with a supervillain rather than a malevolent entity. Up until this point there is actually a lot to commend the film and if it weren't for the ridiculous climax I would be recommending it wholeheartedly. But even as it is, it's nowhere near as bad as you'd think.
Super Reviewer
½ April 6, 2010
(Review coming soon)
Super Reviewer
April 22, 2007
Haven't seen Paul Schrader's version yet, but this was pretty terrible.
Super Reviewer
½ December 14, 2009
Renny Harlin directs the second prequel to the brilliant "The Exorcist", after Paul Schrader's initial attempt was deemed not scary (or gory) enough by producers. Concerning the abandonment of his faith before the events of "The Exorcist", "Exorcist: The Beginning" is at most largely different in tone to its chronological follow up. At a glance, the film would seem more suited to the "Omen" saga, with the director using legitimate biblical events to establish Lancaster Merrin's relationship with the demon Pazuzu. The weaker points of the movie include the casting of Alan Ford as Jeffries. His character seems unusually vacant from the plot and insignificant to the story whilst Ford makes no attempt of playing Jeffries as anything other than Brick Top from "Snatch", a performance that stands out uncomfortably in a bleak horror film set in the late forties. Meanwhile, whilst Stellan Skarsgard's performance as Lancaster Merrin is convincing and well acted, he is not playing the same Merrin as Max Von Sydow, an advantage to Skarsgard's ability, but it weakens the sense of continuity within the character. It does not feel like the viewer is watching the same person, whereas, in a similar case, Ewan McGregor's portrayal of Obi Wan Kenobi in the "Star Wars" prequels compliments Alec Guiness' in the earlier films. These weaknesses are very much outweighed by the positive elements in the film. Whilst the tone is different, the shock value is still there and there are many shocking "Exorcist" elements that reinforce the fact that this is the same evil the viewer endured in the 1973 film. Much like "The Exorcist," "Exorcist: The beginning" introduces the viewer to a wealth of uneasy psychological tension (aswell as the most shocking child - related accident ever put on film) before unleashing unrestrained shock and vulgarity, at some points even more unsettling than the original film.... lets just say Reagan was strapped safely to a bed. Although there are numerous flaws that prevent this from holding the torch to the original, "Exorcist: The beginning" is a worthy foundation for the demonic saga and casts a triumphant shadow over previous sequels and the climactic encounter is a nostalgic treat, whilst Merrin's rediscovery of his faith can not fail to raise a smile in an otherwise bleak situation.
Super Reviewer
August 21, 2007
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the power of crap compels it!

This must be one of the most inane films I've seen. Whoever allowed this to be brought unto the world needs a sanity check, it's like they have walked up to Friedkin and slapped him across the face.

Skarsgård was the little glimmer of hope that just kept me watching to the end, that's right....I watched all of it. But for a movie that's supposed to be terrifying, there were few scares, and when the sound has to be blasted out at 100 decibels to achieve them, you know you're in trouble. The CGI (hint hyenas) is borderline laughable, looking better suited to a video game, and the background looks like it has been painted on. It felt like they didn't even try here....may God have mercy on their souls.
Super Reviewer
½ May 13, 2008
The storyline is no good, and the actors are not either. This was a prequal to a masterpiece, an attempt too use the fame of the orginal Exorcist to boost this ones greatness. They failed, and they failed miserably.
Honestly, if you truly loved The Exorcist, then do not watch this film inless you would like for it to be ruined.
Super Reviewer
½ June 30, 2006
Thppp. This movie was a vain attempt to recreate some of what makde the original scary, which can't really be done. And even if it had been done successfully, it would only pale in comparison to the original.
Super Reviewer
½ November 1, 2010
This film made me wonder if it was meant to be a joke. Because nothing in here made any sense, nor was it scary. Mediocre horror at it's best.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ October 25, 2013
Not only generic, this film's very prequel-esque title is a little broad when we're talking about a film dealing with an ancient demon, because I'm kind of expecting this film to outline everything from Pazuzu's origins during, I don't know, the beginning of demons or something, to the events leading to "The Exorcist", way far forward into the '70s. I can think of some people who would beg for me to not even joke about that, because they feel that this film is torturous enough at just under 120 minutes, let alone something that would make the director's cut to 1973's "The Exorcist" look like a short film. Even William Peter Blatty himself described watching this film as his "most humiliating professional experience", but I for one could go a little harsher on this film, and yet, in all fairness, I could have gone a little harsher on "The Heretic", so what do I know? I will at least say that I was hoping this film would be more hardcore, because, come on, it's an "Exorcist" film directed by a Finn and starring a Swede and, shoot, for good measure, a Polish chick who was pretty much raised in Sweden, but alas, this film is far from metal. Shoot, I wasn't even all that crazy about Sweden's The Flower Kings' "Adam & Eve", and they're supposed to be one of the last hopes for quality music these days, so I reckon 2004 was a disappointing year in Scandinavian, religion-themed entertainment, or at least that was the case for the Swedes, seeing as how this film is pretty much mostly Swedish... at heart. It's more American in "brain", but either way, it's about as remembered as The Flower Kings, or at least that's how box office folk make the financial situation of this film sound, for although the $80 million final product underperformed, it still got a good deal of people to check it out out of, I don't know, morbid curiosity. No, again, this film isn't that bad, or at least not to me, though that's not at all to say that I can't see where some, if not many of the complaints are coming from.

Plenty of people are going so far as to deem the film downright ridiculous, and really, I don't think that it's that goofy, but it does get to be cheesy, with trite occasions in dialogue and questionable mythology spots, which are iffy enough on paper, without some glaring subtlety issues. Gratuitous overemphasis on gore and disturbing imagery, - made all that more problematic by spotty effects - some lame jump scares and even some histrionics mark particular lowlights in subtlety, but the film is never as sharply told as 1973's "The Exorcist", and the cheesy writing doesn't make Renny Harlin's job as director any easier. The film has moments that are, in fact, dumb, and make no mistake, there is too much fat around the edges to handle with all that much realization, because even though the film doesn't meander quite as much as they say, possibly because it manages to avoid the dry spells that plagued its predecessors, including the otherwise compelling "The Exorcist", a 114-minute runtime is not achieved very easily, as material gets to be draggy and repetitious, with too much exposition, which is still somehow a touch too limited. Well, I suppose characterization is well-rounded on paper, it's just that storytelling issues distance you a bit from the characters, who stand to be more disengaging, yet would have been more effective were it not for silliness, nor genericism for that matter. The film hardly does anything all that unique, and it slips deeper and deeper into clichés as it progresses, until you end up with a final product that is nothing short of predictable, even by its own right, with its being a prequel being taken out of consideration. Needless to say, conventionalism reflects a certain laziness in this film that never fully abates, because even though the final product is by no means the disaster that many are claiming it to be, questionable writing and storytelling bring it to the brink of mediocrity. Still, make no mistake, the film is still not as messy as they say, or at least it isn't to me, being seriously flawed and all, but with commendable elements, at least from an aesthetic standpoint.

There are some flat spots to Vittorio Storaro's cinematography, but definition is relatively crisp, and that's eye catching enough without sharp spots in sparse lighting plays that prove to be not only lovely, but compliment this thriller's tone, as well as Eugenio Ulissi's and Andy Nicholson's decent-looking, maybe somewhat immersive art direction. Outside of the aforementioned faulty visual effects, the film is technically and stylistically fair, offering some eye candy, even if it can't really step up its game when it comes to substance, which, even then, isn't as misguided as it could have been, and is to many of my fellow critics. Perhaps substance shortcomings are most found in the story concept's execution through Alexi Hawley's often messy script and Renny Harlin's more inspired, but still flawed direction, because this subject matter itself, while generic in plenty of areas, is pretty intriguing, juggling adventure mystery elements with religious thriller elements in a fashion that offers anything from fun ties to the "Exorcist" mythology that we recognize so well, to potential by its own right. Screenwriter Alexi Hawley, as I said a minute ago, doesn't do potential all that much justice, but his efforts are passable, while director Renny Harlin, in spite of his own considerable deal of flaws, does about as much as anyone in saving the decency of this messy final product which actually wouldn't be so messy without Harlin's faults, meeting plenty of subtlety issues with genuinely effective storytelling moments that play up disturbing, if a touch over-the-top imagery in order to establish some intensity, and offering atmospheric pacing that is actually kind of brisk. Really, if nothing else, it's sheer entertainment value that gets the film by, because even though film isn't as messy as they say, it's still seriously flawed, and such missteps go settled down a bit by a bit of a fun factor, backed by some storytelling highlights, anchored by decent performances. Acting material is seriously lacking in this part, but most everyone plays his or her part well, and that especially goes for Stellan Skarsgård, because even though Max von Sydow was seriously underused in "The Exorcist", he brought something to the Father Lankester Merrin character that Skarsgård does nothing but justice to, with charisma, as well as the occasional dramatic layer that offers more insight into a classic character who would have been more iconic were it not for ambiguities that Skarsgård fills a fair bit of. Even the performances stand to be stronger, but they're decent, enough so to help in getting the film by, and no matter how much the film challenges your investment, at least for me, it did enough right to entertain, in spite of misguided moments.

When the beginning has come to an end, you're left with an improvable prequel that, by its own right, is all but brought to the brink of mediocrity on the back of some cheesiness, plenty of subtlety issues, repetitious dragging, lapses in character engagement value, and conventionalism, but handsome cinematography, decent art direction, intriguing subject matter, sometimes effective and frequently entertaining direction, and decent acting - particularly by leading man Stellan Skarsgård - endear enough for "Exorcist: The Beginning" to entertain as a decent, if messy precursor to a classic thriller saga.

2.5/5 - Fair
Super Reviewer
½ November 1, 2011
Watching it in conjunction with 'Dominion - Prequel to the Exorcist' (The film the studio was unhappy with so this version was filmed instead) is really quite fascinating. Its perhaps a study more interesting than the films themselves in which you examine how two sets of directors and screenwriters tell essentially the same story with a few changes here and there and the results are radically different. 'Beginning' is pretty terrible. Skarsgard is again very good in this role and the film looks finished with CGI and some nice cinematography but its totally inconsequential. While 'Dominion' has too much talking, 'Beginning' has way too much action (and gore . . . such endless and unnecessary gore) and the result is neither scary nor interesting. Whatever sense of a ethical dilemma existed in the other version is absent here, and it bored me. I didn't like 'Dominion' all that much, but at least it wasn't so generic and silly.
Super Reviewer
December 12, 2010
A disappointment and nowhere remotely close to the original.
Super Reviewer
½ May 7, 2007
Having ditched Paul Schrader's somewhat interesting Dominion, Renny Harlin was hired to remake the prequel to The Exorcist. Whereas Schrader favored a subtle, less-is-more, psychologically heavy approach, Harlin goes for bombast - all blood, guts and over the top fake-feeling imagery. Whilst no way near the stinker that The Covenant undoubtedly is, The Beginning is highly disposable, unmemorable stuff. Perhaps watching it just a day after Dominion was not the best idea, because not only does it pale in comparison, but there are plenty of scenes that are so similar to those from Schrader's film that everything feels stale. Unlike Schrader, Harlin tries to trade off of Friedkin's original film by having a Linda Blair-esque exorcism that falls horribly flat and features some pitiful lines ("You want to shove your rotten cock up her juicy arse!"). The acting is less than adequate, the special effects are even worse than those in Dominion, and boredom quickly sets in before the overblown finale. Not good.
Super Reviewer
June 26, 2006
Terrible movie. Not only is it not scary, it is also not in the least bit entertaining. The special effects are awful and just about everything involved with the movie stinks. The direction is frantic and messy, and the script lacks anything to redeem the movie as a whole. Unnecessary garbage.
Super Reviewer
½ January 2, 2007
I was so distracted by the EXTREMELY BAD CGI that I pretty much ignored the rest of the movie. But it sucked anyway.
Super Reviewer
January 31, 2007
Super Reviewer
January 14, 2007
It has its moments but this prequel is not very good at all. Surprisingly, it is in many ways superior (though ultimately not quite) to the Paul Shrader cut.
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