Written by Caleb Carr and William Wisher Jr.
Directed by Paul Schrader
Running Time: 1:56
for strong violence and disturbing images.
Dominion: A Prequel to the Exorcist was just plain awful. No other words can describe it. The movie should have been left in the vault and I hope this puts an end to any sort of sequel/prequel to the original Exorcist once and for all.
Father Merrin, while in Holland, watches as soldiers randomly start killing townspeople. In order to save many, the good Father has to sacrifice ten people. This obviously leads him to great mental anguish and he for all intents and purposes, gives up on his face. He starts going on archeological digs, and one finds him unearthing a great buried church. The church of course houses a great evil and when the evil is unleashed, the only way to send it back to hell is for Father Merrin to come to grips with his faith.
Let's start with the good things about Dominion. Ok that was easy. Now let's move on to the bad things. There were so many bad things I'm not even sure where to start. Visually I've never been less entertained by a movie. Everything looked so fake and uninspiring there was never anything for my mind to latch on to. And the special effects? Ten years ago you could have gotten away with the shoddy effects, but in this day and age? The CGI animals got laughs from the audience instead of chills. The movie looked almost incomplete. Now many of us know the story behind this film, but maybe some don't. This movie was shot and completed when I believe Warner Brothers took a look at it and decided it wasn't scary or gory enough for today's audiences. So they scrapped the entire movie and reshot it with another director. That prequel was released last year (and I never saw it.) It tanked as one might expect, so people started wondering if this version was ever going to be released. It got some good buzz earlier this year at a festival, so apparently WB, wanting to get as much as they could out of their investments, has decided to release it. I think it would have done a lot better if they had simply released it as a DVD extra somewhere, because this movie is a waste of money.
At no point did I care about any of these characters. They were all wooden, with only Stellan Skarsgård as Father Merrin showing any range. The rest of the people could have lived or died and in fact, I was hoping they would die just so something was happening. Where was his crisis of faith? Father Merrin went through a very traumatic experience and felt like God had betrayed him. But afterwards he never talks about it and people don't bring it up with him. Only towards the end does he show any signs of have a crisis, but that's the sort of thing that should have come up throughout the movie. At the same time, they could have had the second guy, Father Francis, be a completely devout Christian to play off of Father Merrin, but instead they made him this school boy who looked like he should be on a WB drama getting his butt kicked in the OC. And the 'love' interest? Why have that at all? She was arguably the worst actor in the bunch showing no emotion and looked like she was just in awe of being in a movie.
I can't remember the last time I wanted a movie to end so badly. Even movies that I thought were awful, were generally so bad they became funny. Dominion had one hysterical scene, that wasn't supposed to be funny, but otherwise was just boring. If you're going to release a movie, shouldn't someone at least watch it and realize, hey, those guys in the background that are supposed to be taking a pickaxe to some boulders, aren't actually hitting anything!. And it's not like I spent the entire movie looking for mistakes, but this one was very obvious because they held on to the shot for 30 seconds, so you could see people swinging wildly into the air. And back to the special effects. Did someone not watch and think, hey, the hyenas in The Lion King looked more realistic than the ones we have here. I've seen hairballs that were scarier looking.
I won't go into the plot only because it was all very forced. I thought the beginning was a really good way to set up the rest of the story, but I never did figure out why Father Merrin decided to go on digs afterwards. Maybe he was looking for signs that God really does exist? That would make sense. Finding a church in the middle of nowhere that was purposely buried on the other hand... Kind of makes you think it was buried for a reason, no? Even if you don't believe that demons exist, maybe you'd think that it was buried because some disease was buried with it. And I thought it was a little ham handed how they set up a scenario in the dig area that was exactly the same as what happened to Father Merrin in Holland. If you didn't see that one coming a mile away, you haven't watched many movies in your life.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, Dominion: A Prequel to the Exorcist was a, no pun intended, God awful movie that should have been relegated to DVD. The only reason I'm not failing it is because I have a little respect for Stellan Skarsgård. Without him this may have been the worst movie I've seen in the last five years.
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