Exorcist: The Beginning

  • Review Date: February 27, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Brutal. Not for kids.
  • Review Date: February 27, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 90 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Characters are racist and misogynist -- and the film shows more vivid violence against Africans.


Sickening graphic scenes including hyenas mauling a small child and baby born dead and covered in maggots.


The beautiful doctor faces harassment, and sex and violence mix in the final showdown.


Not too terrible until the very end when a possessed character spews a number of profanities at once.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There's some heavy drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that from the opening scene of bloody bodies stabbed and crucified across Kenyan soil, viewers are in for a brutal blood bath. Know that there is very graphic violence including a child being mauled by hyenas, a dead baby covered in maggots and someone slitting his throat.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In this prequel to the classic The Exorcist, it's just after World War II, and Devil-fighter Father Merrin (Stellan Skarsgard) has left the priesthood a broken man. Because of his archeological expertise -- and lack of moral center -- he is approached to steal a Devilish-artifact from a dig in Africa, where a church is being excavated. When he arrives, the trouble has already begun: local workers have disappeared, the lead archeologist has gone insane, and hyenas stalk the site even in the daytime. The horror only accelerates, especially for the Africans: A child is mauled to death by the hyenas, a baby is born dead and covered with maggots, and, at the insane asylum, the former boss slowly -- and graphically -- slits his own throat. Merrin has his own demons: he'd been forced to make an impossible choice at the hands of the Nazis. Meanwhile, tensions mount between the native people and the bullying British army. And a young child is blamed for the trouble -- but is he really the one possessed? Our hero will ultimately have to decide that the Devil is really at work -- and figure out where he's at work -- before he takes back the cloth in order to fight him.

Is it any good?


A contrived plot, lame CGI effects and needless, over-the-top gore make EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING an unbearable movie to watch. Flashbacks to Merrin's past are heavy-handed (for example, a slow-motion cut of a little girl dropping her toy puppy in the snow when she comes across a dead body) -- and using the horror of the Holocaust here seems offensive.

The final showdown has a nice head-turning homage to the famous first film (though the effects look fake), and there are some interesting plot points (a young priest tells Merrin that the Vatican suspects the dig site is where Lucifer fell to Earth after being thrown from Heaven). But ultimately viewers will be disappointed that any compelling details are buried by the film's focus on cheap jumps and blood baths.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about violence in horror films. How much is necessary, and how much should be left to the imagination? Are films with more guts and gore scarier than more subtle films?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 19, 2004
DVD release date:March 1, 2005
Cast:James D'Arcy, Remy Sweeney
Director:Renny Harlin
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong violence and gore, disturbing images and rituals, and for language

This review of Exorcist: The Beginning was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byPlague December 15, 2009

Exorcist: The Beginning

Not a bad movie at all really. Not as good as the older ones of course, but still worth watching.
Adult Written byGet More MOney April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


I did not like it at all!


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