dominion - prequel to the exorcistMorgan Creek Productions
2004
R

On an archeological dig in British-ruled post-World War II Africa, defrocked priest Merrin leads an expedition uncovering a centuries-old church. Once inside, a terrible evil is unleashed upon the village, which forces Merrin to confront not only the devil, but also his wavering faith in God…

Those of you scratching your heads at this point, wondering if somehow I’ve gone senile and wrote another review for something I’ve already thrown in my superior two-cents on (and for either a refresher, or if you hadn’t read my take on Exorcist: The Beginning, read it here…go ahead, I’ll wait), I hasten to point out that this happens to be the original vision for the project, before Hollywood deemed it not accessible enough for the teenybopper crowd, thus reshooting the thing entirely and giving us the Indiana Jones With A Crucifix crapfest in the theaters last year. Comparing the two Exorcist prequels is like comparing apples with rabbit turds…

The major difference is the characterization of Father Merrin. Here, you really get a sense of the man’s inner conflict, realized by the full restoration of the Nazi scene in the beginning (something that was sliced and diced in the theatrical release, and stuck in the middle, to little or no effect whatsoever). Instead of a swashbuckling hero, you truly get a tormented individual at odds with both himself and the God he thinks abandoned him. Also, all of the other supporting cast characters are completely different here from their counterparts in the theatrical version. And without giving too much away (I beg you, go rent and see this for yourself), instead of going the regular Exorcist cliche’, the ultimate showdown with Lucifer takes everything and stands it on its head. Brilliantly done, I think…

Mind you, Dominion is far from a perfect film. There are little spots of obvious CGI that could have been done better, and also some spots (like the avant garde dream sequence) seem cobbled together hastily and then stuck in. Regardless, I was quite surprised by what I found with this version of the Exorcist prequel- a period film that stays true to the dark tone and horror of the original film. Bravo for making this…and shame on Hollywood for thinking we’d be too stupid to appreciate something like this…