Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)
Director: Renny Harlin
Writer(s): William Wisher, Caleb Carr, Alexi Hawley, William Peter Blatty (original Exorcist screenplay)
Starring: Stellan Skarsgård, Izabella Scorupco, James D’Arcy, Remy Sweeney, Julian Wadham, Andrew French, Ralph Brown, Ben Cross, David Bradley, Alan Ford, Antonie Kamerling, Eddie Osei, Israel Oyelumade, Patrick O’Kane, James Bellamy, Cecilia Amati, Matti Ristinen, Lydia Darly, James Paparella, Silvio Jimenez Hernandez, Yemi Goodman Ajibade, Michel Leroy, John Sesay, Sayoh Lahai, Alessandro Casula, Roberto Davide, Rupert Degas, Joe Forbess
Synopsis: 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.
Release Date: August 18, 2004 (USA) | Length: 114 min | Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller | MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence and disturbing images.
Note: This is the 2nd Exorcist prequel. The Warner Brother’s didn’t like the original version by Paul Schrader and had Renny Harlin create this version, but when it didn’t do well at the box office, the studio released Paul Schrader’s version “Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist.
The Difference: The basic plot of Father Merrin (played in both films by Stellan Skarsgård) first contact with the demon Pazuzu in Africa is the same, although Pazuzu’s name is never used. He is referred to only as “Satan” and the “demon”. Most of the same characters remain, although some are recast and their names changed, e.g., Dr Sarah (in The Beginning) is Dr Rachel (in Dominion). James and Joseph are in both movies, but with much smaller roles in Dominion. In Dominion, the demon does not possess Joseph; rather he possesses a crippled village boy named Cheche. Probably the most noticeable difference is that Dominion concentrates on Merrin’s doubts about his faith, whereas The Beginning is geared more towards the horrific and scary elements of the story. Also, the majority of the characters live in this film, whereas almost all of them are killed off in The Beginning. (from IMDB)