Monday, October 03, 2005
Exorcist: The Beginning
I’ve heard horrible things about this film. I won’t rehash the difficult journey it had getting to the big screen but you may recall that Renny Harlin was commissioned to take over the reins after director Paul Schrader was fired. Apparently Schrader’s version was deemed too psychological with too few scares. Schrader’s film, now called Exorcist: Dominion, will actually be out on DVD later this month. Jettisoning most of Schrader’s footage, Harlin crafted an entirely different film. Knowing this history, I popped Beginning into my DVD player with very low expectations. I’m happy to report that my low expectations were dashed and The Beginning is actually a fun romp. Set in 1949, fallen priest, Merrin, is hired and sent to East Africa to obtain a mythological demonic idol. When he arrives he learns that an archeology dig has discovered a buried Catholic church, which is intriguing because it was apparently built 1000 years before the rise of Catholicism. After entering this church, archeologists and African tribal members begin to die. Eventually a character is possessed and Merrin must challenge his lack of faith and confront his demons, both literally and figuratively. The Beginning is somewhat compromised by shoddy FX. At one point a character is mauled by a poorly rendered pack of CG jackals. However, I found the climax of the film to be adequate and satisfying. I guess I’m just a sucker for all things Satan. The Beginning is not great, but it’s certainly more entertaining than the negative reviews would have you believe. I look forward to checking out the Schrader version later this month.