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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.35%
Worth A Look: 11.96%
Average: 14.13%
Pretty Bad36.96%
Total Crap: 32.61%

4 reviews, 68 user ratings

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Exorcist: The Beginning
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by Scott Weinberg

"This is what happens when an entire movie is created via reshoot."
2 stars

Owing more to the non-sensical sequels and countless ripoffs than to "The Exorcist" itself, this unwanted prequel starts out promisingly enough, hits a few snags early on, throttles toward a steep decline of silliness, and finishes up with one of the stupidest finales of the past several years. It's obvious to me why filmmakers would try to ape the Profitability of the original film; but why not actually try to copy the Quality?

The WB exec who green-lit this third sequel should absolutely have his head examined. And the guy who green-lit the SECOND version after Paul Schrader's was deemed 'not scary enough'...should seek professional help. Seriously. It's not like Exorcist 2: The Heretic or Exorcist 3: Legion did any great business, pleased any of the critics, or made many fans. So now a full 31 years after William Friedkin's The Exorcist became a bona-fide comes limping along this exhausted and inane little latecomer.


The production history is a sprawling and fascinating one, a tale that will undoubtedly become one juicy book someday. First it was the late, great John Frankenheimer who was to direct the thing. Sadly, he died. Then the celebrated filmmaker Paul Schrader was hired. Cue a boatload of re-writes. Off go Schrader and company to make the movie, but when they got back...the bossmen at Morgan Creek were none too happy with the final product.

So they started from scratch! In comes Renny Harlin, he films a completely NEW film, and after all that rigamarole, guess what? Exorcist: The Beginning, well, it pretty much stinks.

Following a fairly intriguing Act I, in which Stellan Skarsgard's (ex) Father Merrin is enlisted to steal a creepy doo-dad from a recently unearthed church, the movie crumbles to pieces with each successive scene. When we're not treated to endless dialogues about this subterranean chapel or that legendary demon, we're witness to scene after scene of "hallway walking". You know how that works: characters walk down loooong dark hallways for extended periods of time, usually while they're carrying a lantern or a candle - before something that proves to be silly (a bird, a lamp, a shovel) somehow makes a loud noise and scares the whole audience. This approach is easier than creating actual tension, plus it helps to pad out the running time.

As a visual storyteller, Renny Harlin has a bit more talent than his reputation might suggest, but the poor guy is saddled with a truly atrocious collection of CGI effects and background matte paintings that might have passed muster back in 1979. Some of the late-movie FX are so shoddy they're borderline hilarious. But obviously this particular version of Exorcist: The Beginning had to hit screens in a big hurry. And it shows.

The positive assets are few and far between, though the always-excellent Mr. Skarsgard brings a gravity to the proceedings...although it's one that vanishes as soon as another character speaks or a ridiculous swarm of CGI flies enters the room. The supporting performances range from pretty limp (the lovely Izabella Scorupco sure is, well, pretty) to completely hilarious; James D'Arcy as a wimpy young priest delivers his arcane dialogue as if he's ordering Chinese takeout. Even the truly colorful Alan Ford is rendered toothess by his garish and under-written role of Sleazy Letch.

What's most annoying about Exorcist: The Beginning is that it's a transparent little leech of a movie. WB owns the rights to the name, so every decade they try to squeeze a few more nickels out of the word "Exorcist" - just because they know we all love the original movie so damn much. To say that this third sequel is a slap-in-the-face affront to Friedkin's film may be putting it a bit too harshly, but it's still quite accurate. Frankly it's time to put this series to bed already. It's not that a quality sequel to The Exorcist is impossible to make; it's that these guys aren't even trying.

Expect lots of familiar sound effects, fake scares, horrid FX, confused dream sequences and tacky flashbacks. There's just enough in this movie to cull a solid trailer from, and nowadays that's all you need.

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originally posted: 08/20/04 14:22:33
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell some good shocks thats it 2 stars
1/16/14 Dan Dimos Wow it's 2014, ten years after the release of the worst movie of all time. 1 stars
10/31/08 tiffany pettey creepy just like the amytville horror 4 stars
8/05/08 Bnorm I was excited to see this but damn did that end quickly 1 stars
5/22/07 action movie fan only the first excorcist was scary and effective=this is a bore 2 stars
5/02/07 Tracey Chambers It wasnt bad. Cant beat the original though 4 stars
3/09/07 Sugarfoot Not even if Harlin had George C. Scott, could this have been anything but terrible. 1 stars
2/03/07 Vip Ebriega Weird. But you'll be entertained. Much better than Dominion. 3 stars
12/29/06 David Pollastrini needs more gore! 3 stars
12/14/06 D. Kickham Awful!! Can't believe I paid to watch it. 2 stars
7/12/06 David Cohen Better than Exorcist II, but still bad 2 stars
5/25/06 Paulette Gross Just because it says it is an "Exorcist" movie, does not mean it is true. This SUCKS! 1 stars
3/02/06 SHeila D. Sablas Average 3 stars
12/12/05 millersxing Producers of "When Hyenas Attack" end this beleaguered movie franchise at "the beginning". 1 stars
12/03/05 cody a freaky and gory prequel to exorcist series, good plot, good acting,but way over the top 4 stars
11/20/05 Bestit Complete garbage, check out Shrader's DOMINION instead. 1 stars
11/12/05 ShadowFace5 contrived and sloooooow. decent ending 2 stars
6/02/05 malcolm mildly surprising. how do moviemakers keep thinking they can improve on such a classic? 3 stars
5/07/05 Amy Riggsby Slow at the beginning, but an okay movie towards the end. 3 stars
5/01/05 Paul Shawver if you like fantasy and horror it was entertaining 3 stars
4/26/05 E-FUNK Renny Harlin's masterpiece of shit. Makes part 2 look like Casablanca. 1 stars
4/22/05 Pippin007 Not scary!! Save your money on buying this. 1 stars
4/13/05 Indrid Cold I had no expectations going in, so maybe that's why it seemed OK. 3 stars
3/25/05 David Fowler "The Exorcist" is brilliant, "Exorcist 3" is great. Blatty wrote both, anybody get a clue? 2 stars
3/23/05 Naka Go fuck yourself, everyone involved in this. Go fuck yourselves. 1 stars
3/11/05 The Grinch One of the worst fucking movies ever made...I felt sorry for the actors..Schrader redeemed 1 stars
3/06/05 Kyle One of the worst horror movies of all time. Just abysmal. 1 stars
3/05/05 tatum Almost as bad as "Exorcist II: The Heretic" 1 stars
3/02/05 ELI awful. just awful. acting was awful, so was script + directing. worst film of the year. >:( 1 stars
2/22/05 ROY L. CAIN Tries to out do the original, but still delivers . 4 stars
10/29/04 The Dude i would've had more fun dousing my 13 bucks with petrol & setting it on fire! 1 stars
10/24/04 Ronny Disappointing, Hilarious at some points. A potencial good story crashed into pieces... 2 stars
10/22/04 Heather Purplethorne damien, Are you damien as in OMEN, or as in MEAN GIRLS? 3 stars
10/22/04 Regina George didn't really survive the school bus accident Yes, Exotic setting intrigues, but still there are only so many variations on demon-busting 3 stars
10/07/04 elepante_boi pretty good but i hate the last part... 4 stars
10/04/04 Matt Saikaly An incoherent, predictable, and sappy piece of "horror." 2 stars
10/03/04 P-Money the hyennas looked like pokemons 2 stars
9/26/04 djacosta Good 5 stars
9/26/04 damien good 5 stars
9/12/04 Mike jarboe A vile, disgusting, pointless, non-scary waste of time. 1 stars
9/04/04 jeff CRAP 1 stars
9/02/04 kk holy crap this sucks 1 stars
8/31/04 Janet Sullivan The devil is not here today, would be more accurate a line in this film. 1 stars
8/31/04 Trish I loved it! Decide for yourself 5 stars
8/27/04 Wayneee CRAP!!! I love horror movies, but freaking HATE this. 1 stars
8/26/04 Naka Poor Paul Schradder, he's the only one who knew what the hell he was doing... 1 stars
8/26/04 raul valdez omg it sucked i hope they show Paul Shcarders version 1 stars
8/25/04 Webdude To say this movie sucks would be an insult to vacuums everywhere. REFUND!!!! 1 stars
8/25/04 Roy Again The scariest movie ever! I thought I was going to go deaf! 2 stars
8/25/04 TJ what a ripoff 1 stars
8/24/04 lewis see it for yourself before you let others decide for you 4 stars
8/24/04 Rav Dhaliwal It was worth the ticket price and time 4 stars
8/24/04 Horror Fan DMR The first third was ok - the rest was awful 2 stars
8/24/04 Brad For the first hour I thought I was watching Indiana Jones! 2 stars
8/23/04 Loren Rosson Nothing like the original classic, but infinitely better than Exorcist II: The Heretic 3 stars
8/23/04 Dai I think it couldve been way way way better, same old unfearful situations.No Fans were made 2 stars
8/23/04 Steve Ludwig boring, predictable, ultimately disappointing 2 stars
8/23/04 Michael Meade On Christmas Eve 1973, the world of cinema horror was forever catapulted to new and disturb 2 stars
8/22/04 Willie G. Better than expected (In a cheap, ripoff summer-fun-movie kind of way). 4 stars
8/22/04 Peregate 10% jump scares, 10% gross, 80% dull as heck 2 stars
8/21/04 m. willie aames opening: 5 stars, middle: 4 stars, ending: 2 stars...... 3 stars
8/21/04 Allan Arbour not as bad as I thought, not enough demon scenes, but not bad 4 stars
8/21/04 TheBoompsy Really gross! If you're looking for original, look elsewhere. A modern vers of the original 4 stars
8/21/04 William Nellis Scary and done well, EXCEPT for horrible cgi 4 stars
8/21/04 Dan the Damned too many cheap scares does not a horror movie make. one was Merrin losing his footing!?! 3 stars
8/21/04 SlapAss first 1 was good, second sucked, third was ok, this one falls between 2 and 3, i slap ass 3 stars
8/21/04 McGraw Stick to the first one. Lame, uninspired summer nonsense. 1 stars
8/21/04 Mix Master Mason The best horror film since THE RING. Nothing like the original but still very good. 5 stars
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