Everyone seemed to be in full agreement with the victor of our last Original Vs. Remake
centering on The Blob. The masses felt that the remake did outdo the original in basically every possible way. The gnarly effects were a big reason why.
Today, we have a most interesting Original Vs. Remake battle for your reading pleasure. With Deliver Us From Evil the only film occupying our horror-loving minds this summer, we decided to have this O vs. R take the theme of the coming of a great evil one. That's when the prequel to The Exorcist, the fourth film in the franchise, hit us. You may be thinking, "There isn't a remake of that movie!" And you'd be wrong! Actually, this is the first time ever an original and remake were both born from the same movie!
You see, Paul Schrader's Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist was shot first but Morgan Creek had no faith it, shelved it and hired Renny Harlin to tell the a similar story but with more action i.e. to remake it. Harlin used the same lead actor (Stellan Skarsgård) and sets that Schrader did. Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) was the result. But when the latter tanked at the Box Office Morgan Creek gave Paul Schrader the funds to finish Post on his version and they released it limited theatrically and on disk in 2005 under the title Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist.
There you have it. Lets get this unholy battle started!
Young Father Merrin is in East Africa having traded his faith in for the shovel of an archaeologist. He participates in the excavation of an old church that ends up being the house of an evil, possessive demon which take over the body of a young boy.
A young Father Merrin, struggling with his faith, takes a sabbatical from his church and travels to East Africa to take in some history and archaeology. He ends up taking part in an excavation of an old Byzantine church, however nothing can prepare him for type of evil that is buried deep within. Crazy shit begins to haunt the dig and as Father Merrin tries to figure what's up, he unknowingly sets himself on a collision course toward a certain evil demon that is big on possessions.
Let me say this: If you have a shot at getting Stellan Skarsgård in your film, do it! His delivery is fantastic in every scene. Something about that accent.
Billy Crawford also does a pretty good job pulling off a creepy possessed kid. After that, I don't remember any other noteworthy performances.
Mr. Stellan Skarsgård plays the same role for a different director perfectly. That had to have been a strange performance to think through, but he pulls it off. He is also surrounded by an excellent supporting cast as well with James D'Arcy and the lovely Izabella Scorupco being standouts. Hell, even child actor Remy Sweeney is fantastic.
Surprisingly, there wasn't anything too outlandish in the F/X department. Perhaps the budget was extra low? Seriously, we get minimal blood to the point that I actually thought the flick was rated PG-13. The demon look of the possessed kid resembled like someone out of Season 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
There are a nice amount of grisly practical effects here. We get the bloody aftermath of a great war at the beginning. A very harsh dingo attack occurs against a young boy. There's an awful birthing scene that is hard to watch. Not to mention a guy whose face literally deteriorates as the film progresses.
This movie was severely lacking in the scares department. I think this is why it was passed over for The Beginning. There is a lot of talk, I mean a lot, and not a great deal of action. There's maybe one semi scary bit in a hospital bed with the possessed kid, but that is really it.
This may be hard to believe, but a great deal of the frights stem from the young boy, Joseph, who was "touched" by the demon. There's a haunting dream sequence where Sarah finds Joe in his hospital room with his brother's severed head. She then wakes up to yet another shock.
The only chick in this movie is Clara Bellar and she is pretty plain. I mean, her role in the movie really isn't meant to be glamorous. She isn't ugly, but doesn't really stand out onscreen. That's it.
This is not a movie looking to succeed through the use of hot chicks, however there is no denying the amount of heat Izabella Scorupco brings to her fully clothed role (okay, she does have a super fast shower scene). It's enough to make a priest questioning his faith want to make out with her which actually does happen. Holy hotness!
I have to say, I really liked Paul Schrader's decision to deal with more of a psychological thriller involving Father Merrin's guilt over what he was forced to go through with during World War II. The only problem is that this is supposed to be the precursor to one of the scariest and greatest horror films ever made. This movie has too much talking and not much seems to happen. The pacing is way too slow. I do see why this version was scrapped.
Okay, Renny Harlin was the director brought on to redo this flick after the higher-ups didn't like where their original version was going. Harlin's strengths are intense action and jolts. He does a serviceable enough job here, bringing some nice shocks and intensity to the origin story of Father Merrin and Pazuzu. It is nowhere near as awful as the critics say.
Exorcist: The Beginning
Ouch. For the first time ever, we have a near shut out. The Beginning absolutely crucified Dominion. Hell, I was trying to be fair, but it is so hard to ignore the facts. The Beginning is a better made, entertaining enough horror movie. Does it do the original Exorcist proud? Not so much. But Dominion is damn near unwatchable. That is my opinion, but it is time to hear yours! Do you feel this battle was pointless? Does Dominion hold a special place in your heart? Fire them bullets below! And if you have any flicks you'd like to see in this column, give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org