The Excorcist: The Beginning

Partially recommended, but mostly for postmoderns and materialists. Okay, This is a pretty well done supernatural thriller for the first two acts of the movie. Rather subtle, scary build up. Not over the top at all. All rather well done. But the last act, when the ex-priest who rediscovers his faith must face off with the demon possessed woman, looking very much like Linda Blair in her ugly face make-up, the special effects were all a bit unbelievable, and unfortunately work against the truth of the story by making it more unrealistic. The reason why the original Exorcist is THE SCARIEST MOVIE EVER MADE is because it was more realistic. Okay, pea soup and 360 degree head turns might be a bit over the top, but the context was much more realistic and that movie broke through to many materialists and atheists in a way this movie never will. They should stop with the sequels already. So this one just wasn’t as realistically scary. I’m sorry, but shaking beds, upturned eyes and shadows in the night in the first half are a lot scarier than poorly done CGI hyenas and a demon possessed person who can crawl on walls like a spider in the second half. Why? Because the unseen is scarier than the seen. And that’s the merit in this film, it tries to bring some reality to the unseen world of the spirit that modern materialist man denies. For me, that makes this movie contextually valuable even if it’s not perfect in its theology. But I was also pleasantly surprised that the storytellers did not really imbibe in too much Roman Catholic exorcist rituals, which are patently unbiblical and more pagan in their Gnostic formula magic. Say this prayer, say that prayer, say it this many times, etc. In the movie they have the exorcist ritual book, but they never really use it. When the priest faces the demon woman, he loses the exorcism book and pretty much has nothing but Scripture to quote at her, and all of it spoken out of a faith in Christ as the weapon of warfare. Yes, you heard me, he stands against her and fights her with “mere” faith. Couldn’t be anything more truthful than that. At the end, the priest ultimately casts the demon out of the woman rather than exorcising her. This is all much more biblical than the original and I was surprised yet pleased to see this kind of true faith, the Word of God and the Spirit of God as the only sword against the demonic realm. In the Bible, demons are never exorcised with ritual, they are cast out or rebuked in the name and power of Jesus (Acts 16:16-18; Luke 9:49; 11:18-20; Mark 16:17; 6:13), or the more difficult ones by prayer and fasting, but not ritual (Matthew 17:17-21) In fact, the only place that does mention exorcists, they are pretty much useless because ritual is no replacement for true faith. But that is what this movie says as well. Here is the passage in the Bible about exorcists:

Acts 19:13 But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

There is also an interesting subplot of the hero’s fall from faith being based on Nazi’s forcing him to choose who will die of a group of arbitrary people on the street (the movie takes place shortly after WWII). This is a rather good expression of the struggle of evil and the existence of God. It’s the most universal psychological issue we humans have with God and so I think this film deals with that honestly and fairly.