ABC Film Challenge – 2000s Movies – E – Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) Movie Review

Director: Renny Harlin

Writer: Alexi Hawley (Screenplay) William Wisher, Caleb Carr (Story)

Starring: Stellan Skarsgard, Izabella Scorupco, James D’Arcy, Remy Sweeney, Julian Wadham

Plot: Years before Father Lankester Merrin helped save Regan MacNeil’s soul, he first encounters the demon Pazuzu in East Africa. This is the tale of Father Merrin’s initial battle with Pazuzu and the rediscovery of his faith.

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Exorcist: The Beginning starts when faithless priest Father Merrin (Skarsgard) is recruited to use his specialist skills to help understand the mystery about a buried church found in Africa. Merrin is joined by rookie field priest Father Francis (D’Arcy) and Doctor Sarah (Scorupco) as the three will start seeing the strange series of events around the dig.

As the events intensify, Father Merrin will need to start questioning his own faith, when the events point towards a demon, giving him his first encounter with Pazuzu.

Thoughts on Exorcist: The Beginning

ThoughtsExorcist: The Beginning is the horror prequel to the legendary Exorcist, where we get to see Father Merrin have his first encounter with the demon Pazuzu. The version will dive into Father Merrin’s past, which will give us an insight to why he has lost his faith after making it through World War II, showing how Pazuzu will use the life’s horrors to control his victims, putting them through the traumas they must relive driving them crazy. Where this will fall short of the original is with the overuse of special effects, which does feel like they have been completed into this movie, making for certain comical scenes instead of the horrors it wants to imply. The smartest side of the story comes from seeing the two sides coming hand in hand, with the conflict versus the demon’s appearance, showing for the must darker side of the world whether it is religion or human nature. Stellan Skarsgard is great as Father Merrin showing the haunted back story behind him. The supporting cast are strong too without getting enough time to shine.

Final Thoughts Exorcist: The Beginning is by the book prequel, never capturing the tension the original had.


  1. Sadly, “The Exorcist” has had multiple attempts to stretch a perfect “one off” story. I don’t need to know what happened before or after, the original film perfectly captures what happened at that one crucial time….yes, “E3” is an interesting film and I own it, but it’s a new direction, not a continuation in the same way

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