Years before Father Lancaster 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.
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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
Roughly 10 percent of Paul Schrader's scenes made it into the final film, including two minutes of the Holland village massacre. Schrader's version of the sequence is at about 20 minutes long. See more »
Sarah's hypodermic needle is a lot longer before she injects the boy than it is after she pulls it out. (A trick needle slides back into the chamber of the syringe, instead of into the patient's arm. If it doesn't work properly, then the needle will be shorter after the injection than before.) See more »
Director Renny Harlin creates an intriguing, interesting prequel to the events shown in The Exorcist and its two sequels. This film follows Father Merrin to East Africa, initially having given up his priesthood, where his expertise has been called upon to explain some ancient temple that had been unearthed from the sand and dirt at a major archaeological dig site. The temple is in pristine shape and has some major anti-Church motifs abounding. Merrin soon realizes a demon exists and...well, you get the general picture. This film worked for me for a number of reasons: it is story driven as well as effects driven, it has solid acting, great location shots, and a strangely, highly flawed script that does create interest. The last half of the film begins to bog down under the weight of some of the makeup and special effects, but never to the point of overtaking the film and its atmosphere. And atmosphere is one thing this film has plenty of. I especially liked the way the character of Father Merrin was treated. He is a flawed man with an interesting past that the film delves into through flashbacks. These flashback scenes are effectively done and help make Merrin all the more real. The acting of Stellan Skarsgard in the role is the film's principal strength along with some innovative camera-work. Sure, much of the script is hokey hooey and will not make terribly much sense - I'm still not sure what happened in the end, but the film works nonetheless for the aforementioned reasons. I was pleasantly surprised despite some pre-conceived ideas going into the film.
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