The Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)
One of two Exorcist prequels made within a very short period of time. Apparently, they made one, decided it wasn't gory enough or something, scrapped it and reshot the thing with a different director, then released both for whatever reason (moneygrab). This is the second version and generally regarded as the inferior one. I haven't seen the other one so I can't say.
Set in the forties (I forget when exactly. After the war), Father Merrin (Stellan Skarsgård) has lost his faith and stopped being a priest after being forced to commit horrible atrocities during WW2 or some such and become an archaelogist. He is summoned by the church to solve a murder committed in the Louvre... sorry. He is summoned by the church to investigate this temple they found buried in Kenya which has something to do with Satan.
The whole thing feels sort of like Prince of Darkness without a sense of fun and actually way more predictable. I knew from about the first ten minutes that it was the sexy lady who was actually the devil (spoilers). I mean, she was trying to seduce an ex-priest for fucks sake (which is a little unfair, but then this was probably made by old people). It just goes to reason.
Also, the movie was really... lame. There were one or two gross scenes (the woman giving birth to a baby covered in maggots was alarming, although had very little to do with anything), but it was all sort of run of the mill and didn't have anything on the fucked up shit going down in the original movie. Gah.
And is it just me or was Satan's dialogue a lot weaker too? Maybe it's just that the words 'fuck' or 'cunt' don't have as much shock value when mumbled by a grown woman than they do when shouted by a young girl.
On top of that, the movie didn't really make a whole lot of sense. Not that the original had logic in spades but at least the characters were sort of compelling and you actually gave a shit about what happened to Regan and her mother. In this movie you know the priest is gonna live, he's going to find his faith and he's not going to get it on with the chick.
Plus, the original movie was disturbing enough to sicken viewers of any creed, whereas this one turns in to one of those movies that doesn't really work so well if you don't believe in Satan (other examples include: The Omen, The Reaping and all those other movies involving the antichrist).
Another annoying thing which pissed me off a little bit - at one point they try to exorcise the demon from the boy (which is pointless because the demon's not even fuckin in the boy) and fail miserably because of course only the Catholic church can do that, which sort of made me wonder... what the hell did the people do before the Catholic church arrived in their country? Like, because it's supposed to be the place where Lucifer fell to Earth (of course, it had to be in Kenya), presumably they have had some problems with demonic possession before and presumably they had ways of dealing with it otherwise they would have a serious problem on their hands... so...
On the plus side, the movie looked great and the sound effects were pretty good. Stellan Skarsgård does a decent (though somewhat disturbing) impression of Max Von Sydow, and is kind of hot. Apparently the role was originally offered to Liam Neeson, which would have been interesting (Liam Neeson + Catholic priest = yay, see Breakfast on Pluto), but Stellan does a good job.
The only other people I recognized in the movie were the guy from Dark Shadows, Ben Cross I guess his name is, and Alan Ford, who played Bricktop in Snatch.
Yeah, overall this movie was mildly interesting but also mildly boring and mildly offensive. I do kind of want to see the other version though.
Directed by: Renny Harlin. Written by: Alexi Hawley, based on the screenplay written by William Wisher and Caleb Carr. Starring: Stellan Skarsgård, Izabella Scorupco, James D'Arcy, Remy Sweeney, Julian Wadham, Andrew French, Ralph Brown, Ben Cross, Alan Ford.