11 January 2017

EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING and DOMINION: PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST: REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS.



EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING and DOMINION: PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST- A DELICIOUSLY DEMONIC DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING. (2004) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY WILLIAM PETER BLATTY. DIRECTED BY RENNY HARLIN.
STARRING STELLAN SKARSGARD, IZABELLA SCORUPCO, RALPH BROWN, JULIAN WADHAM, JAMES D'ARCY, EDDIE OSEI AND ANDREW FRENCH.

DOMINION: PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST. (2005) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY WILLIAM PETER BLATTY. DIRECTED BY PAUL SCHRADER. STARRING STELLAN SKARSGARD, CLARA BELLAR, GABRIEL MANN, BILLY CRAWFORD, RALPH BROWN, JULIAN WADHAM AND ANDREW FRENCH.

When it comes right down to brass tacks, these are just two slightly differing versions of the same film. I quite liked EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING, even though it couldn't hold a candle to the first and third films in the franchise. I hated DOMINION: PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST, considering it to be quite simply EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING with all the good scary bits taken out.

Ironically, the critics took the opposite view. They, along with William Peter Blatty, the writer of the book that kicked off the whole shooting-match, seemed to think that EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING stank to high heaven and that DOMINION was a much better film.

The public didn't seem to care overly much for either film and DOMINION is only available on the boxset I've recently acquired, entitled THE EXORCIST: THE COMPLETE ANTHOLOGY. As far as I know, it's never been released as a stand-alone film.

The ANTHOLOGY was an unexpected find and a Christmas present to myself. I haven't had a decent night's sleep since I bought it, mind you, thanks to the peculiarly vivid nightmares, but forty quid and only one week of waiting for six cracking horror films is not too much to pay in my book.

Now to the two films in hand. Both movies follow pretty much exactly the same plot, but with changes of personnel in the second version. Stellan Skarsgard plays a priest who's lost his faith after some naughty Nazis made him choose which members of a small village community should live or die after a German officer is shot. The priest is a young Father Lankester Merrin, which name should certainly ring a bell with all you fans of the original and third movies.

Now it's a few years after the war and a disillusioned and faithless Father Merrin is conducting an archaeological dig in a British-occupied area of Africa. He's excavating a church that seems to date from fifteen hundred years ago. The church was built, or so it seems, by whoever built it, then buried immediately afterwards. What could possibly be so evil that it was buried as soon as it was completed? You might well ask...

In EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING, a much scarier and more atmospheric film with a nice little feeling of demonic menace running through it from the outset, Father Merrin is searching for an idol, namely the head of the demon Pazuzu, our old pal from the earlier films. In DOMINION: PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST, he just seems to be there for the craic, haha. There's no sense of impending evil at all in DOMINION.

The church in DOMINION isn't remotely scary or claustrophobic-feeling at all either, unlike the church in THE BEGINNING which you can quite easily imagine being 'the spot where Lucifer fell to Earth,' or even a portal to Hell. The demon in THE BEGINNING, even though he/she's not a patch on Regan in the original film, scared me a little bit as did the showdown between good and evil in the creepy underground tunnels.

I wasn't even remotely scared of either the demon or the showdown in DOMINION, a film devoid of almost any atmosphere, grittiness and even sweat. It seems like a highly sanitised version of THE BEGINNING in which Stellan Skarsgard is actually cleaner, more clean-shaven and less tormented than previously.

THE BEGINNING also has Upside-Down Jeebus and a deeply disturbing hyena attack scene involving a child. The hyenas in DOMINION are too computerised and not terrifying enough, and I don't really think that they attack anyone, anyway.

I hated the character of Cheche in DOMINION and I would have left him out altogether. The ultra-posh and more than a little bigoted English Major Granville and his Sergeant Major are good in both films, as is the horrific birth of Sebituana's child and the Nazi flashbacks. 

I even fancied the naughtiest Nazi in both films, with his long black leather coat and his snooty German accent, but I know you're not meant to admit openly to fancying hot Nazis 'cause it's in poor taste, so you can forget I said that if you like...! I'll continue to fantasise in private, though. That's if something can be said to be private after I've just shared it with you nosy lot, haha.

I much preferred stunning Bond girl Izabella Scorupco as the doctor in THE BEGINNING to the insipid Clara Bellar in DOMINION. Ms. Scorupco is more believable as a concentration camp survivor and the scene where she's alone in the clinic after her shower and then telling Father Merrin why she shouldn't be bleeding from 'down below' is nicely chilling.

What's left to say? Probably loads, haha, but I'll finish by reiterating my point of earlier. I genuinely think that EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING is a much better film than DOMINION: PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST and I honestly don't understand why it received the bad reviews it did. I'm certainly glad I was able to watch both films, though, thanks to my anthology DVD.

Unless you've seen both of 'em, you apparently haven't watched every film in the franchise, even though the first three films are the real originals, if you get me. You can, of course, make up your own minds as to whether you prefer THE BEGINNING to DOMINION or vice versa.

You might love the pair of 'em, or you might even consider them both to be big steaming piles of ca-ca. I've said my piece, haha. The ball is in your court now, dear readers. And keep an eye out for that Pazuzu fella on your travels, will ye? If I know my demons, that lad's trouble...

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

 http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com






No comments:

Post a comment