Exorcist: The Beginning
Exorcist: The Beginning ★½ 2004 (R)
Once upon a time, Paul Schrader was set to make a prequel to the 1973 horror classic “The Exorcist.” He shot his film, which was rejected by the producer as insufficiently scary. So Renny Harlin was hired to basically re-shoot (and recast) the entire movie. This backstory has got to be more interesting than what finally showed up on screen. In 1949, Merrin (holdover Skarsgard) has temporarily rejected the priesthood and is working as an archeologist. He agrees to travel to Kenya and bring back an artifact unearthed at a mysteriously preserved Byzantine church. Scary, possibly supernatural, things begin to happen—a child even becomes possessed! Would that any of the cheap theatrics could, more than momentarily, hold a viewer's interest. Schrader's version is also expected to be released on DVD. 114m/C DVD . Stellan Skarsgard, James D'Arcy, Izabela Scorupco, Remy Sweeney, Julian Wadham, Andrew French, Ben Cross, David Bradley; D: Renny Harlin; W: William Wisher, Caleb Carr, Alexi Hawley; C: Vittorio Storaro; M: Trevor Rabin.