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.
A police lieutenant uncovers more than he bargained for as his investigation of a series of murders, which have all the hallmarks of the deceased 'Gemini' serial killer, lead him to question the patients of a psychiatric ward.
Archeologist Lankester Merrin is asked to go to East Africa to excavate a church that has been found completely buried in sand. Merrin is also an ordained Roman Catholic priest who, still haunted by what he was forced to do during World War II in his native Holland, eschews any religion or belief. He's fascinated by what he finds and that it dates hundred of years before Christianity was introduced to the area. Accompanied by a young priest, Father Francis, to keep an eye on the religious elements of what they find, Merrin makes his way to the camp. There he meets a young doctor, Sarah and soon realizes there is an air of gloom that envelops the entire site. Workmen go mad and a young boy is mauled by a pack of hyenas while completely ignoring his younger brother Joseph. Inside the church itself they find signs of desecration. Merrin is forced to re-examine his lack of faith and come face to face with the devil. Written by
What do you do when you're stuck with making the third sequel to a long-ago horror classic, and the two previous sequels have played out every possible angle? Why, you make everything as gory and bloody and exploitative as possible, far exceeding all three previous films' violence and gore quotient. You also hire a hack director, in this case Renny Harlin, because any reputable director would either: A. refuse to make this, or B. never be able to top the original, anyhow. In THE EXORCIST, William Friedkin directed a masterpiece to which there should never have been a followup, simple as that. EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING should have been a straight-to-video release, for all the special effects and bloody killings and panoramic desert shots. Stellan Skarsgard is saddled with following in Max Van Sydow's considerable footsteps as a younger Father Merrin in this so-called prequel, and no one else in the cast is worthy of note. There's no Linda Blair or Ellen Burstyn or Jason Miller or J. Lee Cobb here to lend able support. So the whole thing falls on Skarsgard's shoulders, and as mush as I admire the actor, he simply isn't up to it. He spends most of the movie standing around, providing reaction shots to the various doings, which include an endless series of children and adults being shot in the head, some shown repeatedly. As we know, this is really the director's fault. Renny Harlin. How much worse can it get? A couple of scary moments don't make up for all the crap the rest of this film is loaded down with. Plotwise, we have a middle-age, spiritually fatigued Merrin involved in a post-WWII East African dig that unearths the very demon he is destined to meet up with again in a Georgetown townhouse many years later. The good versus evil battle fought here is, shall we say, less than auspicious.
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