A year ago, director Paul Schrader, a reliable filmmaker, was fired after turning in a cut of Exorcist: The Beginning
that the studio found too tame. Director Renny Harlin was summoned to gore the thing up, allegedly reshooting all but 20 minutes of Schrader’s two-hour film. It will be interesting to see which 20 minutes of the resulting mess were Schrader’s work (I’m guessing the few minutes that look good and make sense). Harlin’s cut is laughably bad, resorting to soundtrack screeches and hyenas eating children for cheap frights. Stellan Skarsgard plays Father Merrin (played by Max Von Sydow in the original movie) in this prequel-origin story that shows how he started dueling with the devil. If you need a good Exorcist
movie other than the original, Exorcist III
is serviceable stuff. This one is a total mess.