Exorcist: The Beginning

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2004, Warner Bros.
Stellan Skarsgard, James D'Arcy, Izabella Scorupco
Renny Harlin
In Theaters:
August 20, 2004

Synopsis (Provided by Warner Bros.)

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In the aftermath of World War II, Lancaster Merrin finds himself in the remote Turkana region of Kenya. Haunted by memories of the war, he has taken sabbatical from the priesthood and journeyed far from his native Holland. He has come to lead the archeological excavation of a mysterious, Byzantine church, buried in pristine conditions as if on the day it was completed. Directly underneath the church, Merrin discovers a much more ancient crypt--and finds himself face-to-face with unspeakable Evil.

Madness descends on the local villagers and the contingent of British soldiers sent to guard the excavation. Merrin watches helplessly as the atrocities of war are repeated against another innocent village--atrocities he'd hoped to never see again. The blood of innocents flows freely on the East African plain, but the horror has only just begun...

Film Notes
Commentary by Andrew Manning (July 2004)

Since the beginning, this prequel to the legendary film The Exorcist has been plagued by creative differences. Author William Peter Blatty, who penned the novel upon which the original was based, had voiced vehement opposition to the project, which Warner Bros. went ahead with despite criticism. Tom McLoughlin (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives) and novelist Caleb Carr were early candidates to direct, but the job eventually went to John Frankenheimer. Tragically, Frankenheimer passed away in July 2002 due to surgical complications, and Paul Schrader (Cat People) was tapped to helm.

About a year later, a rough cut was presented to the suits at Warner Bros. In short, they did not approve of Schrader's vision of the story, which favored psychological drama over shocking action. Schrader was subsequently replaced by director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2: Die Harder), and the film underwent a major overhaul, complete with reshoots.

Even now, with the project wrapped and ready to go, Exorcist: The Beginning faces more delays in its final release date, getting bumped from the summer blockbuster season to the post-box office frenzy of late August. The fact that this film is getting little buzz also does not bode well, and it seems that no one is expecting it to be the highly anticipated follow-up that was originally envisioned years ago.

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