Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Exorcist: The Beginning / *** (2004)

It's difficult to approach certain movies without the smallest morsel of cynicism, especially when they are undertakings with as convoluted a past as "Exorcist: The Beginning." Practically any movie news site would be happy to report that this theatrical release is actually the second complete version of a prequel to William Friedkin's immortal 1973 scare-fest, assembled from scratch by director Renny Harlin after the studio's first cut (directed by art-house filmmaker Paul Schrader) apparently wasn't even scary enough to be re-edited from scrap footage, let alone deserve a release. What Morgan Creek might not have consciously realized at the time, however, is that their decision to completely redo an existing and unreleased film was something for the cinematic history books, a resolution so excessive and tricky that it represents a case of decision-making that is simply unprecedented in its extremity. Furthermore, to simply erase one man's entire effort and replace it with another's also meant that a second film based on one premise would be a big gamble financially; unless it set box office charts on fire, the studio would actually be coping with the loss of money from not one but two films. That's good decision-making for you, I guess.