After loosing his faith after witnessing the worst of man
during the Second World War, Lankester Merrin (Skarsgård) has forsaken the
church and focused his life on archaeology. While on a dig in East Africa,
Merrin discovers a Christian church that predates any form of Christianity
reaching that area of Africa. Buried since it was built, as Merrin and Catholic
priest Father Francis (Mann) discover that they have found something that
wasn't meant to be found and released a presence that had been dormant for
Paul Schrader's vision of how Father Merrin's dealings with
evil began was never meant to see the light of day but now it has awaked.
After viewing this first version of the 'Exorcist' prequel,
the executives at Warner Bros. decided that the it wasn't the film they
wanted to release and the started the project again with a new director
and a different cast but after the version failed, they decided to release
Schrader original version. While the premise of both movies is the same,
a Christian church is found in the African desert and evil is unleashed',
each version of the film is very different.
While Renny Harlin's version ramped up the scares and the
gore to bring in the younger, more bloodthirsty audience, Schrader's film
drew more from the psychological effects of evil. The film concentrates
on the wickedness of man and how the devil and his minions can manipulate
them into committing acts of pure evil. Instead of the excessive killings
and gore we now have a film that builds a sense of foreboding towards a
climatic confrontation that will change Merrin's life forever.
Besides the basic premise of the movie, the only other connection
between the two is the presence of Stellan Skarsgård as Father Merrin. The
character has again lost his faith and turned his endeavours to archaeology
but the discovery of the mysterious Christian church will make him question
himself again. Skarsgård's performance is very good again and very similar
to that of the remake, as Merrin tries to solve the mysteries of Church
and the evil it unleashes but this is a more restrained and calculated version
of Merrin and one that is not as trouble as he was in the second version.
The big question is 'Which version of the 'Exorcist' prequel
is the better movie?' and the answer is neither. Each of them has serious
problems that could have been solved by taking the best parts of each of
the scripts and making a more complete movie. While 'Dominion' is more character
driven and tension filled, if lacks a clearly defined backstory to explain
the church (which the remake had) and any genuine scares to make this horror
movie the one 'Exorcist' fans hoped would possess them.
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack,
the movie is presented well.
Feature Commentary with Director Paul Schrader
The acclaimed director talks about his take of the 'Exorcist' prequel.
He reveals how he became involved in the project and the approach to telling
Father Merrin's first confrontation with pure evil. He talks about the
shortcomings of the story and which elements he personally didn't think
worked in a horror context. He reveals how they wanted to concentrate
more on Father Merrin's story and less on the gore and evil that had dominated
the original and its sequels. He doesn't really talk much on why the film
wasn't released at the cinema however and his feelings about it, but he
covers most aspects of the film's production.
Deleted Scenes (5.34 mins)
Entitled 'On the march', 'House of Saint Michael', 'Cigarette', 'Classroom
Song', 'Finest Painter' and 'Church in Ruins', these deleted scenes are
not accompanied by a commentary or introduction to explain why they where
removed from the film.
View publicity shots from 'Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist'
Warner Bros. have done the right thing by releasing Paul Schrader's version
of the Exorcist prequel as it gives fans a chance to make up their own
minds as to which is the best. The extra features are a little slight
but the commentary is good and worth a listen but the inclusion of a making
of featurette or an interview with the director would have added to the
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