Saturday, October 24, 2009

THE RETURN OF 31 DAYS OF HORROR: #24 Dominion A Prequel To The Exorcist

Your honor I do not deny that my client has done wrong, but look it is not all his fault look at his upbringing. The Exorcist is something of a cursed franchise, why a franchise exists at all is a question we can leave for another day, but at the moment lets just look at its track record. After the first which still ranks as one of the greatest horror movies ever made/best recruitment commercial the Catholic church ever had, we where barraged with a sequel brought to you by the Zardoz himself John Boorman.

The Exorcist II could politely be called metaphysical nonsense with James Earl Jones dressed as a Giant Bee, but really this makes the movie sound more interesting then it really is. To quoth Ghost World “The film is not so bad its good, but so bad that it becomes so bad it’s good then just goes back to being bad again.” The third movie is taken dispassionately is an alright supernatural mystery with a few cool scenes. However, the production was such a nightmare that it ended with Exorcist author William Blatty disowning the franchise he created. Still that production was lollypops and roses compared to what befell its poor brother, Dominion: A Prequel To The Exorcist.

The film was shot by the most caustic man in America Paul Schrader, and was then declared boring. In an unheard of occurrence, the dumbest thing to emerge from Finland since the Herring, Renny Harlin, was given the same story, the same lead actor and told to do the whole damn thing over. When Harlin’s STOOPID movie was finally unleashed, rumors began to circulate about how awesome Schrader’s film was, with the consensus being that the unseen movie was very awesome indeed, blah blah blah the timid yet draconian American studio system, grrr… Argh… When the Schrader version came out and it did not infact make your whites whiter or your brights brighter, and cure rheumatism the critics turned on the film and it now sits with a twenty eight percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film is flawed, no doubt, the last third of the movie pretty much falls apart, wherein Satan becomes Buddha, the sky turns purple, British troops march ever so slowly on African villagers, and the worst looking CGI effects in history gambol merrily across the screen. The rest of the movie though has a major saving grace, simply put it takes this shit seriously. Paul Schrader, is from the old guard of filmmaking and he doesn’t use “quotes”. He takes evil as a serious force in the world not some abstract force, and when asks in desperation if Satan might be preferable in a way to God because at least the devil shows his hand, its not asked to be cute and shocking but in true spiritual desperation. And there is a moment when Skarsgard is asked a question to which he simply answers “Yes” that is bone chilling in its implications. Stellan Skarsgard gives an admirable performance as a priest forced to commit atrocities during World War II. Disgusted with himself and God he leaves the church only to be brought onto an archeological dig where a church that predates Christianity in Africa Is found buried in the sand. While there he witnesses a miracle, as a deformed mentally handicapped boy is suddenly made whole. Guess what happens next? Ladies and gentleman of the jury for it’s intensity of its conviction, for the intelligence of it’s questions, and for its simple daring, I ask that you find, Dominon, Not Guilty.

EDIT: So I'm taking a vacation and as I'll be crashing on friends couches for the majority of the run. As such my computer access will be spotty at best. So if I miss a day please forgive me.

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