User Score
4.6

Mixed or average reviews- based on 50 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 50
  2. Negative: 21 out of 50
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  1. harrym.
    Apr 10, 2005
    10
    Just rating it in my own taste. I love the film. The critics are the worst. Thats all.
  2. TylerN.
    Apr 20, 2005
    10
    Very under-rated. Next to Saw, this is the next best horror/suspense movieout on DVD. Definately for fans of the original. Its good.
  3. MarcD.
    Oct 27, 2006
    6
    Lacks focus and any true sense of pace. It steers clear of the psychological themes and horror from the original, instead hoping to evoke some reactions by throwing as much ugly effects at us as possible. Unfortunately, fear doesn't work that way.
  4. JavierR.
    Oct 6, 2004
    4
    This movie is only a execise of horror and terror, that coused screams, but the drama is out of this film.
  5. Triniman
    Aug 21, 2004
    8
    Exorcist: The Beginning 4/5 A Christian church is discovered buried in Africa, about 1000 years before Christianity was supposed to have appeared in the area and it?s in pristine shape. On the inside are grisly images of the devil, suggesting that this is no ordinary church. The locals are terrified of the effort to unearth the church as some of them mysteriously die, disappear or go mad. Exorcist: The Beginning 4/5 A Christian church is discovered buried in Africa, about 1000 years before Christianity was supposed to have appeared in the area and it?s in pristine shape. On the inside are grisly images of the devil, suggesting that this is no ordinary church. The locals are terrified of the effort to unearth the church as some of them mysteriously die, disappear or go mad. Lancaster Merrin, an archeologist and a fallen priest, comes to check it out at the request of an enigmatic Brit, Semelier, an antiquities collector. Haunted by his memories of the Nazis killing civilians and his forced role in the matter, Merrin gives up on God and decided to pursue archeology and drinking. What makes this film surprisingly enjoyable is the performance by Stellan Skarsgård as Merrin. He?s convincing as a former priest, privately fighting haunting memories of the war. We last saw him as a bad guy in King Arthur and as Captain Tupolev in The Hunt for Red October. This film trades psychological intensity for gore and violence. It?s not really scary so much as it is a pederstrian romp through the catalogue of horror cliches. Some of the dialogue actually had the audience in stitches. Another director, Paul Schrader, made a version that relied less on carnage and more on tension, but it was deemed not commercial enough. There are several scenes that don?t really make sense. Who would visit this very creepy church or dig up some graves, all alone, in the middle of the night? Some of the imagery borders on tasteless. There?s visuals of a young girl being shot in the head by a pistol. Put in the hands of a skilled director and such a scene becomes a powerful statement. In the hands of Renny Harlin, it?s as subtle as a sledgehammer and repeated showings don?t add depth. There?s lot of needless imagery strewn about just in case you didn?t wake up and realize that this is supposed to be a cool, scary film, man. Look for some well-placed leaches, maggots, a couple of suicides, claustrophobic crypts, death by Nazi pistol, cannibalistic birds, a wayward moth and some dreadful hyenas that stalk the priest but decide to snack on a young boy. What was missing? Just some guy who can change into a bat at will and say, ?I vant to suck your blood!? Despite all the bad points, I still enjoyed it and felt mildly entertained. It can?t compare to the first film but it does stand on its own as something horror fans will want to see. Expand
  6. ChadS.
    Aug 22, 2004
    3
    In the Paul Schrader version, bet the farm that a confrontation between the British army and Kenya natives doesn't exist. It's evidence of being a hack if demonic possession is a premise that needs to be enlivened by white man's burden syndrome. "Exorcist: The Beginning" loses its focus when attention is taken away from the fight against Satan. The story also does a poor In the Paul Schrader version, bet the farm that a confrontation between the British army and Kenya natives doesn't exist. It's evidence of being a hack if demonic possession is a premise that needs to be enlivened by white man's burden syndrome. "Exorcist: The Beginning" loses its focus when attention is taken away from the fight against Satan. The story also does a poor job of suggesting the growing presence of the devil inside, and pulls a banal switcheroo on us, because "Exorcist: The Beginning" didn't want to be "Blacula". Inexplicably, the devil can leave its host without an exorcism. Schrader, a Calvinist, must've been attracted to this project because of Father Merrin's faithless post-concentration camp life. The slick, and sometimes sick Renny Harlin, shows the rationale behind Father Merrin's self-exile from Catholicism in the most sensationalistic manner possible. This sort of historical violence is highly inappropriate and offensive in a cheesy film like "Exorcist: The Beginning". Expand
  7. DannyG.
    Aug 20, 2004
    8
    This was good...pefect? hell no, but it was good. It was creepy, gory and enteraining what could u ask? yes it was kinda boring but for the love of god (no pun intended) its the Exorcist its always gonna be a little boring also the cgi was not that great either u could tell it was cgi.
  8. BlogarS.
    Aug 22, 2004
    10
    Awesome movie, recommend it to everyone.
  9. TrishM.
    Aug 25, 2004
    1
    How can you expect a coherent movie when it's 2 films spliced together. I feel sorry for the poor film maker who had to edit this film. They should have make a real life doco=documentary instead of this fictional disaster movie that would have been more scary, with the demonic accidents that occurred in actual filming.
  10. Eric
    Aug 20, 2004
    1
    Gory, silly and boring. Don't waste your time.
  11. RustyB
    Aug 29, 2004
    6
    It was decent, not as bad as everyone says it is. Has some freaky moments.
  12. RudyRudy
    Mar 3, 2005
    1
    Dookie. Pure dookie.
  13. AlexaR.
    Aug 21, 2004
    0
    It was a load of stupidness. It was soooo bad, I almost threw up.
  14. VinceH.
    Aug 21, 2004
    5
    Not nearly as bad as you might think, but not that great either. I was looking foward to this very much towards the beginning with one of my favorite novelists doing the screenplay (Caleb Carr) and one of my fav directors on board (Paul Schrader). Unfortunately, Schrader was replaced by Renny Harlin (one of the single worst Hollywood directors of the 90's who makes Michael Bay look Not nearly as bad as you might think, but not that great either. I was looking foward to this very much towards the beginning with one of my favorite novelists doing the screenplay (Caleb Carr) and one of my fav directors on board (Paul Schrader). Unfortunately, Schrader was replaced by Renny Harlin (one of the single worst Hollywood directors of the 90's who makes Michael Bay look like Antonioni). Schrader's version will be released on the DVD (I am just waiting for the Ozu & Bresson references) but until then we must contend with Harlin's version. The dirty-brown visual sheen adds atmosphere and a sense of dread over the proceedings, and the movie has a good sense of pacing and narrative drive so that it never gets boring or tedious. On the other hand, Harlin relies too heavily on CGI-bugs, spiders, and guts to elicit response from the audience instead of actually trying to direct scenes so that they are scary (the frights include the usual walking-in-the-dark, quick camera pans that reveal people who weren't there, fast cuts towards strange sounds, etc.). This is a mediocre horror film but I'd still recommend to those who have absoultely nothing to do and just want to be in a room with air conditioning. Also, one question: Why not just get William Friedkin to do it? He's still directing and he did a damn good job with the first one, so was he even approached? Just wondering... Expand
  15. BillS
    Aug 24, 2004
    3
    Another flawed, oddball summer clunker, but not in the way most seem to be chalking it up... ETB cranks up the atmosphere engine well enough, and brings forth the crusted, moody characters with some aplomb. The wending way the somewhat tired story takes to get to the ending is tiringly dusty, windy & bumpy, but sets up the tension and mystery with a modicum of tact and structure... No, Another flawed, oddball summer clunker, but not in the way most seem to be chalking it up... ETB cranks up the atmosphere engine well enough, and brings forth the crusted, moody characters with some aplomb. The wending way the somewhat tired story takes to get to the ending is tiringly dusty, windy & bumpy, but sets up the tension and mystery with a modicum of tact and structure... No, it's that ending that really blows the lid off an otherwise competent and certainly-better-than-Heretic sequel. Here, Harlin drops his pretenses at serious horror and fires off several shots that seem directed squarely at the funnybone. I don't know how I kept from doubling over laughing at some of the bits, especially the very last climactic running-down-tunnel sequence. Honestly, I started to feel like I was watching Evil Dead 4 (which wouldn't have been a bad thing, per se)... No, ETB retains its satisfyingly evil facade right up until the very last few minutes, where the disguise is cast aside and directionless silliness ensues. Which, sadly, makes a truly screwed-up whole - and basically ruins the experience. Expand
  16. Gobngls
    Aug 28, 2004
    1
    The movie drags on forever and then rushes to a conclusion. Not enough confrontation between "the devil" and Merrin. Don't even rent it.
  17. RevaE.
    Sep 2, 2004
    7
    I can't tell how much I would have paid $10 extra if Friedkin had directed it. Even though his way was somewhat simplistic it still was one of the best horror films I've ever seen (the original). On that note, usually when people hear "The Exorcist" they still get those images of Reagan's demonic face. For most people, the images (and possibly voice) will stay with them I can't tell how much I would have paid $10 extra if Friedkin had directed it. Even though his way was somewhat simplistic it still was one of the best horror films I've ever seen (the original). On that note, usually when people hear "The Exorcist" they still get those images of Reagan's demonic face. For most people, the images (and possibly voice) will stay with them forever, its made such an impact in people's minds. The thing I liked most about The Beginning was how it makes you think about how much the Churches actually DO cover up. (I wouldn't expect you to realize this if your one of those people who go to see a movie for the 'hot' actors.) Think on it for a second or two, Priests are still taught how to preform Exorcisms today. People like to often argue the fact that this can never happen and never has. If it can or hasn't happened, why are the priests still taught the rituals today? ... Also, I liked how they showed the church, the tomb with the stairs leading down was rather overused but it worked. Things I really didn't like were how they had the war, I'm sure we're all aware of the fighting in Africa. It didn't really give much to the real story and plot other than the area around the Church is like a playground of evil. Which again, is made aware by other scenes in the film. People who bash this movie and think the Ring and the Village 'out-scare' it, should not brag. Of course Sequels and Prequels are not commonly as good as the first, lets face its true. Anyways, I found The Beginning entertaining. The CGI was ok..it wasn't bad, you want to see bad? Go see Anacondas. I think Harlin tried TOO hard to live up to the original. Nothing mean towards Harlin, but I'm sixteen and I couldn't directed some of the scenes better. Still, I was happy to see that this wasn't as bad as the Washington Post claimed it was. If you don't like this film, you can always stay home and watch the original, it never gets old. Expand
  18. KaceyG.
    Mar 29, 2005
    4
    A little better than the first Exorcist, but that isnt saying much.
  19. MohammedR.
    Apr 24, 2005
    8
    One has to judge a horror movie with a different yard stick that say a drama. In a horror movie it is 80% about the horror and around 20% about char development. This movie is not the most scary movie and being a sequel or a prequel does not help it being original. Is a total was of money. Absoultly not. It has a few good horror scenes and some char development. Is it all tied together One has to judge a horror movie with a different yard stick that say a drama. In a horror movie it is 80% about the horror and around 20% about char development. This movie is not the most scary movie and being a sequel or a prequel does not help it being original. Is a total was of money. Absoultly not. It has a few good horror scenes and some char development. Is it all tied together well, not really, that is why I gave an 8. If you have not seen any other exorcist movie, this one is not bad to start, but it is somewhat different. Finally, the quality of the acting is not below average for a horror movie. Expand
  20. AlecB.
    Jun 25, 2007
    7
    i actually really enjoyed this movie a lot.. . but it didn't really show how it all began now. Basically it was just a body count movie with tons of violence and gore and scary images. There wasn't even a exorcism in the movie except that cheap one at the end.
  21. JoeA.
    Nov 13, 2004
    6
    I went into this expecting very, very little. It was a little hokey at times, but it wasn't all that bad.
  22. DecepticonPom
    Nov 8, 2004
    3
    A potentially gripping story let down by the absence of a gripping script. A few cliched but effective momentary frights married with some frightenningly shallow performances make for a truly wasted opportunity... And the kids visibly looking for their marks is just ridiculous.
  23. MichaelM.
    Oct 21, 2004
    4
    Those seeking cheap thrills and blood will love this film. Those seeking an actual movie won't. This film is a little embarassing to the Exoricst series. Wait a minute... all the Exorcist movies were an embarrasment to the series except the original. The point is The Exorcist was a film that never should have had sequels. The only thing rewarding in this, the latest Exorcist Those seeking cheap thrills and blood will love this film. Those seeking an actual movie won't. This film is a little embarassing to the Exoricst series. Wait a minute... all the Exorcist movies were an embarrasment to the series except the original. The point is The Exorcist was a film that never should have had sequels. The only thing rewarding in this, the latest Exorcist installment, is an excellent performance by actor Stellan Skarsgaard. You'll find yourself wondering through the movie, "Why is he in this?! He's too good for this!". On this one, I think it's safe to wait till it debuts on HBO. Expand
  24. Quiet
    Aug 21, 2004
    7
    It wasn't as bad as I feared, given the release and rumors around it. It doesn't begin to capture the suspense and feel of the original movies, but is reasonable dispite this. The story is relatively predictable, but enjoyable. There are tense moments, but no great shock or release. There are some mildly disgusting scenes, but no worse than the original, which now days It wasn't as bad as I feared, given the release and rumors around it. It doesn't begin to capture the suspense and feel of the original movies, but is reasonable dispite this. The story is relatively predictable, but enjoyable. There are tense moments, but no great shock or release. There are some mildly disgusting scenes, but no worse than the original, which now days isn't that bad. (It was shocking in its day.) Expand
  25. MarkC.
    Aug 23, 2004
    3
    Just saw this film and I would not recommend you spending money to see it. This film not very cohesive and the scary parts are telegraphed. Expect dozens of separate scenes thrown together without any thread. The hyena special effects are cheesy. If your idea of a good movie is the boogie man jumping out and going 'BOO' then see it. You do get to see a dead ringer for pea soup Just saw this film and I would not recommend you spending money to see it. This film not very cohesive and the scary parts are telegraphed. Expect dozens of separate scenes thrown together without any thread. The hyena special effects are cheesy. If your idea of a good movie is the boogie man jumping out and going 'BOO' then see it. You do get to see a dead ringer for pea soup spewing Linda Blair. Expand
  26. Marquez
    Aug 23, 2004
    0
    My only complaint was that the sound effects were loud enough to keep me from enjoying my nap. This movie was two hours of my life that I'll never get back. Atrocious.
  27. GregTaylor
    Mar 16, 2005
    1
    Basic rubbish.
  28. MikeW.
    Mar 19, 2005
    4
    Wow! Renny Harlin really missed his mark with this, while the story for the most part is okay. But ultimatley what kills this movie is the directing. Yet I continue to ponder why Renny Harlin got the job (his directing credits include: Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger). His style shows, the movies relies to much on "oogity-boogity" style scares, as opposed to real psycological scares. And what Wow! Renny Harlin really missed his mark with this, while the story for the most part is okay. But ultimatley what kills this movie is the directing. Yet I continue to ponder why Renny Harlin got the job (his directing credits include: Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger). His style shows, the movies relies to much on "oogity-boogity" style scares, as opposed to real psycological scares. And what strikes me as funny is the original cut of the film (by another director and cast) was deemed too psychological and didn't have enough quick scares. Translation: dumb it down. And they sure got their wish. Expand
  29. AlbertoR.
    Mar 26, 2005
    6
    It was not that bad, i think the critics are being quick to label it horrible, it was not the best, but not the worst. A good tv movie to watch.
  30. Aug 19, 2011
    0
    I watched this today with my boyfriend and during the movie I predicted what would happen, and I was right every time. It was just too predictable and like other movies. Don't really see exactly how this is the beginning, and the movie stunk too much to watch it again to understand. :/ Plus, the DVD features were extra boring.
Metascore
30

Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of 22
  2. Negative: 11 out of 22
  1. Reviewed by: Joe Leydon
    40
    Earns points simply for not being bad enough to leave a stain on the screen. Unfortunately, this annoyingly disjointed shocker stumbles badly after promising early scenes, and quickly devolves into a chaotic blur of underdeveloped characters, illogical transitions and standard-issue scary-movie tropes.
  2. 20
    Pokey, blood-spattered, cheap-scare-larded prequel.
  3. The movie goes too far on too little motivation - and the middle section, with its maggoty villains, roiling skies and native revolts, seems almost barmy. Yet Exorcist: Beginning does score a small victory. It's not as bad as you'd think.