Exorcist: The Beginning - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Exorcist: The Beginning Reviews

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June 21, 2014
Good prequel that makes up for the horrible sequels. A little to gory though
½ June 1, 2014
Entertaining...but could have been better
May 4, 2014
No prequel/sequel will ever equal The Exorcist, but The Exorcist: The Beginning deserves more praise than it has received. Of the four prequels/sequels to The Exorcist, this is the best. (How The Exorcist II: The Heretic manages a tomato rating of 22% escapes me--that's the most boring movie I've ever seen.) While it would have been easy to just rehash the original by having young Father Merrin called in to exorcise a demon from another child, TE:TB has the more ambitious plot of Merrin, fallen priest and archeologist, investigating a mysterious church uncovered in Africa. The atmosphere grows in intensity and creepiness as the plot progresses toward (admittedly) a disappointing climax. As Merrin, Stellan Skarsgård does an excellent job of developing a man torn between the Nazi atrocity that made him believe God doesn't exist and the supernatural horror that forces him to reexamine his beliefs.
December 7, 2013
Evil forces, the Catholic Church and mayhem will ensue. Cinematography gives an account of the mysterious and fears in heavy ladles giving good cause to jump. Actors scream well, a sign to the fear and pain that is being told in the story. Sets are magnificent creating a very believable time and place. Interesting question; Where did Satan fall, Answer Tartarus. Nibbles: Bruschetta
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
October 19, 2013
It doesn't deserve the title, and it seems rather out of place with it's adventurous tone, but I can't say it's not entertaining. Gory moments, crude scares, and callbacks. Decent characters for the most part. The plot isn't too great, but it has interesting parts. It is a bit too long though. Ultimately the final climax sells it, but it could of been better.
½ October 3, 2013
The story has it's perks, but totally lacking in horror. No scares.
September 5, 2013
I saw this before the original, and because of that I liked it.
½ August 19, 2013
Everything about this movie was terrible--especially the continuity. I also had no idea what was happening the entire time. This didn't seem to connect to the Exorcist story at all, except for maybe the last 20 minutes. Sitting through the last hour of this movie was incredibly painful, and I had to stop numerous times because I just got too bored.
½ August 17, 2013
Way too violent it is predictable and as is the case with every horror remake it focuses on blood and gore and does not pay attention to the story
½ August 2, 2013
Well what would I say is this movie is scary as hell than the sequels of the exorcist I think this should be sequel to the first exorcist which is better than the heretic.
July 15, 2013
Slow but intelligent follow-up, infinitely superior to the other sequels (Richard Burton aside). It was shot with surprising beauty and is impressively grand in its scale. Complaints of gore are unfounded - it has a 15 Certificate in the UK and is no bloodier than any horror fan would anticipate. There are good performances and several clever scenes and lines. Its downfall is slightly dragging, being about twenty minutes too long and perhaps leaving the real scenes of possession until the end. I agree that the Nazi storyline feels a bit of an afterthought but those scenes are well-presented. Not many films could compete with the shock-value and poignancy of the original but this is a superior entry in the saga and stands alone well.
June 7, 2013
O MY GOSSSSSH u have 2 see dis 1 very old and very scary but u kno wat they say olddie but a goody
June 3, 2013
The Beginning is a grisly horror movie. And a middling one at that, lacking the mature religious subject matter of the original.
½ May 28, 2013
Best Exorcist film since the original.
May 14, 2013
Turn off your brains and don't compare it to the horror of the original or else you will be sorely disappointed. .Exorcist: The Beginning is an attempt (that almost succeeds but not quite) to tell the backstory of troubled father Merrin. The story is a mixed bag of interesting circumstances and dull circumstances, outrageous circumstances, intriguing circumstances, and laughable circumstances. The acting is strong from all parties involved but the overused CG really destroys the feel. The final conflict has it moments but the makeup (which is nowhere near as terrifying as Bair's) leaves a bit to be desired and the conflict itself felt a bit out of place for such a slow moving film. Not great but for people interested in Merrins past it should be ok.
May 6, 2013
It seems like a well made film; but unfortunately it bored me to tears! Do you remember the beginning 5 minutes of "The Exorcist" that everyone forgot about when the main film started... Well this entire film has that whole vibe to it! While prior Exorcists focussed on scares and horror, this seemed to focus way to heavily on the biblical side of things, and well, it's two hours of boring drivel.
April 26, 2013
really good movie! church underground with secrets was really interesting!
½ April 24, 2013
Exorcist The beginning is a brilliant and scarry prequal not as good as the original, I loved how it all stated how the origin of evil started and I was intrested and I think this version of farther merinn is really dose an amazing job and Sarah posses by the devil is way scarier and creeper then Linda Blair overall I recommend this too anyone
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