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"Exorcist: The Beginning"

``Exorcist"... horror for horror's sake

FASTEN YOUR seat belts for another sojourn to morbidity — the Morgan Creek Production, "Exorcist: The Beginning" (A) is here. "The Exorcist" that was made some years ago dwelt on the stark nefariousness of the other world on a frighteningly different plane, and at that time it was rather new to viewers. But this time round, there's nothing very innovative in the goriness. You already know what the possessed would look like and do.

However this prequel directed by Renny Harlin begins rather well. As the camera pans back to reveal a vast battleground of the maimed and the massacred, the dying and the dead, the viewer sits up. In fact, scenes touching gargantuan proportions enhance the visual impact of "Exorcist." Vittorio Storaro is the cinematographer. But later things become too bizarre and hideous. Imagination at its grotesque worst proves nauseating after a point. Lurking bloodthirsty wolves, ravenous ravens and swarming bees that feed on blood-soaked bodies make up the murky scenario.

Father Merrin (Stellan Skarsgard) is disillusioned with humanity and religion after he is forced to be a part of the brutality that the people of his parish are subjected to. He relinquishes his robe, moves away from his native town in Holland, and drowns himself in drinks. While passing through Cairo, Merrin, now an archaeologist, is asked to go to a 2000-year old Byzantine church buried in East Africa, and fetch a relic from there. He finds the existence of such a church unbelievable because Christianity had not found a foothold in Africa in that period, he argues. But curiosity takes him to the place of excavation in a remote part of Kenya.

Once there, Merrin sees the dug out church, looking desecrated and haunted. The spirit sleeping beneath the church is waiting to be woken up and when it happens pandemonium strikes. It goes on a chilling, murderous spree, claiming quite a few victims. A desperate Merrin leaves his rational ideas behind and prays to God to help him save the suffering. God answers his prayer but not before an excessive bloodbath! Soon Merrin returns to priesthood again.

You have to give it to screenplay writer Alexi Hawley — the suspense about who actually is possessed by the ghost is maintained well till the climax. Trevor Rabin's music adds to the eeriness. Juxtaposing seemingly unconnected sequences at once lends clarity and confusion to the narration.

The young girl who suffered at the hands of the spirit in the most inconceivable manner in the earlier film haunted you not only because she scared you but also because you pitied her plight. But the just released "Exorcist" is a case of horror for horror's sake.


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