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Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)

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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.



(movie The Exorcist), (story) | 2 more credits »
6 nominations. See more awards »



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Years before Father Lankester Merrin helped save Regan MacNeil's soul, he first encounters the demon Pazuzu in East Africa. Merrin's initial battle with Pazuzu leads to the rediscovery of his faith.

Director: Paul Schrader
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A teenage girl once possessed by a demon finds that it still lurks within her. Meanwhile, a priest investigates the death of the girl's exorcist.

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Stars: Richard Burton, Linda Blair, Louise Fletcher
The Exorcist (1973)
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When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.

Director: William Friedkin
Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair
Legion (2016)
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William Peter Blatty's director's cut of "The Exorcist III" which was thought to be lost. Recovered and released in 2016 under its original title, this is the definitive cut of the film based on his novel "Legion"

Director: William Peter Blatty
Stars: George C. Scott, Ed Flanders, Brad Dourif


Cast overview, first billed only:
Major Granville
Andrew French ...
Father Gionetti
Lieutenant Kessel
Eddie Osei ...
Israel Oyelumade ...
Jomo (as Israel Aduramo)
James Bellamy ...


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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A new chapter of evil See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence and gore, disturbing images and rituals, and for language including some sexual dialogue | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 August 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Exorcist IV: The Beginning  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$18,054,001, 22 August 2004, Wide Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (Unrated Version)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.00 : 1
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Did You Know?


Liam Neeson was initially cast as Father Merrin. See more »


When the Byzantine Knight/Priest crosses himself while standing among all of the bodies (in one of the early scenes) he does so in the Roman Catholic fashion (left to right). Any Byzantine of that era would adhere to the Eastern Orthodox variant (right to left). See more »


Father Merrin: Having orgies including goats doesn't make them possessed, simply horny... and inventive.
See more »


Version of Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005) See more »


composed by David Bradnum
Provided by Associated Production Music LLC
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Not the piece of trash that I was expecting
24 April 2005 | by See all my reviews

There's no denying that this Exorcist prequel is surplus to requirements in terms of movies that needed to be made; but in spite of that, it's actually not bad at all. The film was never going to be received well, due to the fact that it's a prequel to one of the greatest horror movies ever made, and of course the whole Paul Schrader fiasco; but I'm happy to report that The Exorcist: The Beginning has risen from amidst the chaos and turned out to be a very decent horror movie. The action takes place before the events of the classic 70's movie, but it still follows the same character - Father Merrin, who was played by the great Max Von Sydow in the original, and is brought to life by Stellan Skarsgård in this movie. We follow him as he joins a British expedition in Kenya after an ancient church that has been buried underground for hundreds of years has been uncovered. You know what's coming, and this discovery is a springboard for all kinds of evil to be inflicted on the surrounding village.

The film really falls down on the character side, as we never really get to know any of them and with the possible slight exception of the lead; not a single one has any depth. That's unimportant, however, as this film's main focus is definitely the atmosphere; and it's suitably malevolent throughout, which does the film no end of favours. The action is very slow, especially for the first hour, but it hardly matters as watching the plot bathe in the atmosphere is always entertaining enough, and while it is slow you can always count on something to happen that will get the excitement levels back up. The film features several shocking and disturbing sequences, my personal favourite being the hyena attack; with the stillborn birth coming a close second. The CGI in the film leaves a lot to be desired, especially on the aforementioned hyena attack, but the effects aren't too much of an important element anyway. When the film boils down to it's ending is when it really lets rip, and the final fifteen minutes or so deliver some really great horror. While this film doesn't even nearly touch the original; it's much better than you would think considering all the turmoil surrounding the release and on the whole I give it a thumbs up!

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