The history of this film will become legend. Director Paul Schrader (AUTO FOCUS) was asked to do a prequel to THE EXORCIST. When he turned in his moody dramatic piece the studio decided they wanted something more commercial and hired a new director to virtually redo the entire film with more conventional scares. That movie was EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING and it stank. After it bombed in the theaters, the studio decided to release Schrader’s version to help recoup the costs of making two films.
The core idea of the films is relatively the same, but they couldn’t be anymore different. Schrader’s film is more of a dramatic ode to spiritual doubt and the presence of evil in the world than a scare-fest. Father Lankester Merrin (Stellan Skarsgard, GOOD WILL HUNTING) goes on sabbatical from the Catholic Church after an incident during World War II emotionally scars him. He is involved in an archeological dig in Africa where they find a church buried in the sand.