Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist

Not Recommended. I wanted to see this movie because of the fact that it was shelved and redone by Renny Harlin. Well, I wanted to see why they studio felt they would lose so much money that they would need to remake it. And now I see why. Boy, Studios are not always stupid. This is a version done by Paul Shrader, who may never direct again. And he has a Christian past, which would make you think he would deal with spiritual things well, but think again. This is supposed to be the story of Father Merrin BEFORE the Exorcist movie, that is, his past. This movie was really bad. Bad acting by the melodramatic young priest, and female lead. Bad writing, bad directing. First mistake was the first scene, which was supposed to be Merrin’s past of having to chose which Jews to kill by the Nazis, which is what causes him to lose his faith but remain an archeologist. Well, the lead Nazi starts with a slight German accent and then loses it entirely. This was terrible. And the scene was boringly edited and acted. This was a sign of the rest of the movie. A couple good things about the movie: One theme of evil, “No one wanted to believe the atrocities of Hitler were going on. It’s easier to believe evil is random rather than the fact that it is in everyone and everyone is capable of it.” Another thoughtful idea spoken by a priest, “Faith’s ultimate strength lies in its ability to strengthen men, not conquer evil.” That’s cool. Many times, the faithful are martyred or do not in fact experience worldy victory, because God has something else he is teaching them. Winning in losing. Some ridiculous elements. Okay, sometimes you can make something eerie and evil by doing the opposite, by showing something that is normally mundane as an expression of evil. Irony helps surprise the audience and see things a new way. However, in this movie, it is done in such a poor way that it is really quite laughable. One of the “evil ironies” is that they have some cattle kill a herd of hyenas. Of course, we don’t see it, we just see the after effects of a few cows in a field around a bunch of dead hyena bodies. And then they show a bad CG shot of a cattle chewing on hyena remains. It was something out of Attack of the Killer Tomatos. Of course, there are the cliché characters, like the stupid priest who thinks the spirit of our Savior is in a demon possessed kid. The big showdown between the faithless priest and the demon possessed child was almost purely metaphysical and not even interesting. The big Showdown was the priest quoting Roman rites of exorcism as the demon possessed man cowered with each phrase. But it lacked entirely any real drama to it. No stakes. Okay a couple cool things: The demon possessed man came to look very much like an Eastern Buddha or avatar figure, which I like. Also, a couple of great lines from the demon that show us the truth in its opposite form, “ You hate God and why not? He gives you guilt.” The big temptation was telling the priest that he could “cease to care” which would protect himself. And when the priest finally faces this demon, he gets on his knees at home and asks God to forgive him for his unbelief. Very cool repentance. But silly special effects, like stuff out of the 70s or 80s. Overall, this film is a waste of time, but on the other hand, it’s good to see movies illustrating that there is real personal evil in the world, and you can’t brush that away with your pomo relativism. But alas, a failed poor quality attempt to do so.

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