The film tells the story of the early days of Father Merrin, he comes face to face with evil in the form of Nazi soldiers. Soon after a rather horrific ordeal with them, he loses all faith in people and especially his faith in God. He becomes an archaeologist and is soon approached to participate in an archaelogical excavation of a buried church. Merrin travels to Kenya, where he is haunted by the evils of the war, but those evils compare little in comparison to the ones he's about to face, the devil himself. Exorcist: The Beginning is a haunted and wild ride which will at times have you looking away at the screen while during others you'll find it impossible to look away.
One thing I have to get out of the way is this movie isn't the Exorcist. It is but it isn't. Don't go into the film expecting it to be just as frightening and shocking as the original because, let's face it, no movie is ever going to come as close to the origin of fear as the Exorcist did. This film however, is entertaining, frightening, hell, it's even a bit disturbing. Some of the images which appear on the screen are extremly graphic, and are definitley not for those with weak stomachs. Aware that Exorcist: TB would be rated R,Warner Brothers was smart, and exploited the R-rating like there's no tomorrow.
When going into this film, I couldn't help but expect it to be horrible. First, it's a remake, I mean remake as in the first one went straight to hell and isn't ever going to see the light of day in a movie theater. Paul Schrader had filmed the Exorcist film and when he submitted it to Morgan Creek, the owners of the Exorcist franchise, they fired him immediatley. They had said that the film was not the all-out-gore-fest that they wanted but, instead Schrader had defended his film by saying it was never meant to be, that it was more of a psychological drama. Another thing which was a bit fishy about the film was the fact that they had canceled all of the critics screenings which is usually a hint that we better sound the sirens, head into our bomb shelters we purchased during the Y2K scare and prepare for a Gigli to hit. This film was not that at all.
Looking back on the film I think that Morgan Creek ultimately made the right choice by re-shooting the film, you don't go into a movie like the Exorcist to watch a boring dialog driven movie, without a drop of blood. You go into expecting to be shocked, to leave you in awe of what you just witness, and to even question faith in our lives. There are many moments in the film which truly bring back the essence of the original, that feeling where you look to the person next to you, and you sit up straight and you say to yourself, Holy f*ck, this isn't right. I sat in the theater the entire time, waiting for the Exorcism to take place because that why I went to see the film, to see the devil possess a little girl. Exorcist The Beginning isn't a very thought-provoking movie but it was never meant to be, this is by far the best of the lackluster Exorcist sequels, and it will leave you running to the local video store renting the original.
3 1/2 out of 5 duckies.