In the early years of the 20th century, a young priest encounters a demon in East Africa. THe priest is Father Lancaster Merril (Skarsgard), and the demon is Pazuzu.
The enjoyable hoo-hah surrounding the making of The Exorcist prequel finally comes to an end: this is the bit where the original movie is revealed to be a masterpiece and we can all yell, “Philistines!” at the hapless execs.
Well, Paul Schrader’s film is better than Renny Harlin’s Exorcist: The Beginning, but only marginally so. Together with some sober theological ponderings, its few neat ideas, such as a harrowing opening sequence set in Occupied France, are let down by Schrader’s pedestrian direction. Sadly, he’s a director whose ambition often seems to outreach his talent.
And, as everybody who gets involved in the repossession game seems to forget, the original’s key strength was its unnerving juxtaposition of the everyday and the supernatural. Dominion, however, piles on the exotica — mad African tribes, suicidal British officers and giant underground cathedrals — before climaxing with a confrontation with Pazuzu that’s only slightly less barking than Harlin’s. And if you thought the digital hyenas in that version were a hoot, wait ’til you see what poor Schrader has had to make do with.
Better than Harlin's version, but a service to neither Schrader's nor the original Exorcist's name.