I loved "The Exorcist", and the rerelease of
the film with the new footage was great. Messing with the
prior product seemed like a bad move to me, but "Exorcist: The
Beginning" does have its good moments thanks to a slick-looking
production and a couple of genuinely good scares.
Stellan Skarsgård stars as Merrin, a former
priest that has lost the faith but hasn't lost his desire to
complete archeological digs for the highest bidder the world over.
When the film opens, Merrin is called upon to investigate a dig near
Nairobi in the 1940s, fresh out of his time working as a priest in
Europe and witnessing war atrocities courtesy of the Nazis.
This dig is a little bit different than most, though...the dig seems
to have turned up a 1500-year-old church that pre-dates Christianity
(???) and looks so new that it almost seems that someone
intentionally buried it at the dig location. Merrin shows up
to find spooked out workers, a priest from the Vatican (James
D'Arcy), and a bunch of crazy people that seem to be affected by,
well, the devil!
Oh, that devil.
Merrin is played by Max von Sydow in the
1973 version of "The Exorcist", so one thing you know coming in is
that he learns in "The Beginning" what takes him to further his
exorcism practices in later years. Skarsgård is a good choice
for the role, and even though I imagine he knew signing on that this
wouldn't be an Oscar-winning classic, he gives it his all and goes
about his business like the true professional he is. The story
in "The Beginning" isn't stellar, and the film seems to run nearly
forever (nearly 120 minutes for a horror film?) before finally
giving us the exorcism that we came to see in the first place.
Like I said, there are a couple of good spooks in "The
Beginning"...but mainly, this film is just nasty!
Nasty, like the sheer amount of
bloodletting, or the carnage footage at varying points, or the skin
condition of the dig leader (played by Alan Ford, from
watching those hyenas...whoa. Now, coming from Renny Harlin,
one of the masters--along with, maybe, Paul Verhoeven--of the
gratuitously violent flicks "Die Hard 2", "The Long Kiss Goodnight"
and "Cliffhanger", this is not a big surprise. But some of
these kills are nasty!
This year, sadly, hasn't been as
horror-happy as last year, when it seemed like the swell of scare
flicks hit an apex. But, we've got a few coming up in the
weeks ahead, especially near Halloween, so hopefully "Exorcist: The
Beginning" is something we can build on as the year comes to a
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard