Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)
Review Date: August 19, 2004
Director: Renny Harlin
Writer: Alexi Hawley
Producers: James G. Robinson
A man of the cloth who lost his faith and is now an archeologist (just go with it) is approached by the Vatican to go check out a buried church recently uncovered in Africa. After the man puts down his drink, he heads down to the church and discovers there, a cute doctor, one messed up excavator who wants nothing more than to nail said doctor and plenty of African tribesmen who believe that there is a "curse" in the air, etc... (note the "etc", it will play into the film later on) Pea soup ensues!
So let me get this straight...out of the two versions of this film that were shot over the past two years, THIS was the one that the studio thought was better and less "boring"? Wow...I can't even begin to imagine how lame Paul Schrader's version was, since this movie was about as enticing as the finger that my physician slipped up my bung-hole earlier today (don't ask) The problem with a movie that is called the EXORCIST, based around the extremely popular demonic series, is that the audience is obviously aware of the film's prime focus, which is the possession of human beings by the devil and the exorcisms that follow. So would anyone mind telling me why it takes this film about one full hour to get to the point that the lead character even slightly begins to believe in that very concept? (the whole movie only lasts about 95 minutes) So while everyone in the audience, including my bored ass, knows and believes that these "strange occurrences" are obvious interventions by the devil, the lead clown on the big screen is just stumbling around saying "I don't believe it", "That simply can't be...", "Hand me another drink". I'm breaking that down because that was my biggest issue with this movie...its utter predictability. Director Renny Harlin tries to spice things up with a number of "boo" scares, many of which aren't very effective, a sizeable amount of blood and gore (particularly in the film's second half), CGI hyenas, flies and human breath up the ying-yang (if you're going to CGI someone's breath, at least make it believable, man...you're taking me out of the movie!) and a number of somewhat interesting flashbacks to Nazi Germany and our lead man's unfortunate past at the hand of them bastards.
The film certainly "looks nice", but it doesn't have anything interesting to say and ultimately turns into an over-the-top, profanity-ridden tete-a-tete between the man who doesn't have faith and the demon itself, which while viscerally invigorating, doesn't really bring any greater meaning to any of it. The characters are also pretty flimsily written with Stellan Skarsgård certainly coming through (especially in the drinking department!), but the Josh Hartnett look-a-like priest disappearing for stretches at a time, the man leading the digging expedition described simply as the most vile human being (if you can even call him that) on the face of our planet and the best looking doctor I've ever seen in an African village, played delectably by the sumptuous Izabella Scorupco. The fact that the film actually took the time to showcase her in a "shower scene" hopefully shows that Harlin wasn't taking it all too seriously (and yes, if you don't blink, you'll catch a shot of her left boob) This is not a good movie, folks -- not in the least -- but if you don't require much originality in your films about demon possession, if you enjoy watching Skarsgård slam shots down like he was fighting for his life and if CGI hyenas ripping apart an 8-year old are your idea of a decent night at the flicks (I'll give the film this much...it has a number of pretty gross-out scenes), rent it on video, close the lights in your house, spread some maggots around your crotch and inhale the unimpressiveness that is this film. What film? Exactly!! I can barely remember it now...
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian