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Monday, August 23, 2004

Exorcist: The Beginning

Since I saw the movie on Saturday, I wanted to post a review while it was still fresh on my mind.
First let me say that review comes in two flavors, General and the Spoiler Edition. The spoiler edition is clearly marked and can be passed over if you choose not to read it.

Now, as horror movie reviewer, I give this movie a C. It was not a movie which will reach "Horror Movie All Time Great' status by any stretch of the imagination, however it was not a total loss. What I liked about this movie from an objective point of view was the plot. Even if you are not a fan of the Exorcist series, as a horror movie it serves up a fair amount of the genre staples. There are moments which may make you jump and others where the suspense is simply unbearable due to a well written story.

The Story:
Years before Father Lancaster Merrin helped save Regan MacNeil's soul (in The Exorcist), he first encounters the demon in East Africa. This is the tale of Father Merrin's initial battle with Pazuzu and the rediscovery of his faith. Merrin is contracted to help in the excavation of a church that has been uncovered as part of an archaeological dig in Kenya. As their desent into the unknown begins, an evil is unleashed unto the land with horrific results.

Simple enough. This film stars Stellan Skarsgård, who is probably unknown to most US audiences as most of his early work (Mid 1970s) is from Sweden and Norway, does a great job in creating a believable early version of Father Merrin.

Now for something more in depth:
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As a fan of Blatty's story, I think this film was fantastic! Therefore I would give it a B+ for what it is, a prequeal. Many of the critics are judging this film harshly as a flop due to its lack of cutting edge horror tactics or its slow build up. However, that is one thing that makes the plot so strong. The plot is what drives this film and does a superb job of giving Exorcist fans a well defined background. We find Lankaster Merrin in Egypt, haunted by memories of World War II. He has taken leave from the priesthood and is indulging himself in alcohol and self pity in an attempt to forget and escape all the atrocities of war that he had witnessed .

Because he has a background in archeology , he comes to lead a British excavation (in the remote Turkana region of Kenya) of a mysterious, Byzantine church from the 5th century, long before Christianity arrived in East Africa, buried in pristine condition as if on the day it was completed. Following some mysterious clues, he uncovers a secret crypt directly underneath the church where something much more ancient and evil awaits. His very first encounter with Pazuzu!

The special effects are not spectacular but they do the trick in alluding to a manevolent force loose in the village. Beds shaking, cold breath where evil is present, and lots of blood are not new to horror fans, but again director Renny Harlin (Director of Die Hard 2, The Long Kiss Goodnight, & Deep Blue Sea) did a great job of keeping me in my seat. Even the predictable scares were acceptable as they went along very well with the strong plot.

Some of the special effects were quite good such a image of a little girl getting shot in the head at point blank range. The CGI produced hyenas were not (i'll admit) very good, but the savage scene were they rip a boy apart was well done. Expect some crosses to be upside down and a couple of things to move supernaturally as well as the classic infestation of flies.

There is a nice little plot twist as the movie nears its end and that was a welcomed surprise. The movie ends with Lankaster re-gaining his faith in God and exorcising the demon face to face. He saves a precious soul even as the horror spreads through out the entire population of the village and the British soldiers sent to secure the site. Lankaster returns to the Vatican once again donning his priest's collar and calling himself Father Merrin, ready for whatever God may have in store for him.
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A true horror fan should see this movie on the big screen and enjoy it for what it is then judge for yourself.




"Yesterday I got so scared, I shivered like a child. Yesterday away from you, it froze me deep inside. "

CJ



8 Comments:

Blogger Leah said...

I am not so sure about this movie. I still have not seen the OG Exorcist all of the way through, it was just too much. I will probably end up watching this one at home on a bright sunny day in the security of my own house…where I can jump and scream and not be embarrassed. Thanks for the review!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger LaVarious said...

Thanks for the review CJ. I was going to wait on this one to hit video as well. I think the first one was good, second one sucked ass because Regan wore a light-up rainbow sun visor and weilded "the force", and the 3rd was kicked ass just because of the nurse. I didn't know how the prequeal was going to pan out, but it doesn't sound too bad. I was never actually scared of the entire franchise, but I know my GF is deathly afraid of them...I hate her.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 7:52:00 PM  
Blogger nicole said...

Thanks for the review! I think this is a movie I can pass on.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger PDawg said...

"Inbetween Days" could be my all-time favorite Cure song! YAY!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004 8:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're right on track and not many people are willing to admit that they share your views. lost password is an AWESOME place to discuss LOST.

Friday, October 28, 2005 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger vanessa said...

It wasn't the original. I thought it moved way to slow and drug on and on and on ect... To lame sorry my opinion.

Friday, October 28, 2005 8:38:00 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

I thought the movie moved along too slow. Only towards the end did it pick up and become the fright fest it should have been.

Saturday, July 15, 2006 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing beats the Original Exorcist

Thursday, August 09, 2007 9:57:00 PM  

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