Exorcist: The Beginning

Movie review by
Common Sense Media Editors, Common Sense Media
Exorcist: The Beginning Movie Poster Image
Brutal. Not for kids.
  • R
  • 2004
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There's some heavy drinking.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written by@@@ December 17, 2011

Nothing good to say.

None of the films in the Exorcist series are good. I did not find a single moment in any of the films scary, but this...it just pushes the word "unbearable... Continue reading
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.
Teen, 13 years old Written byLeonvol March 13, 2021

Okay for teens

Let me start of saying that this movie is really good. Just because it is a exorcist movie doesn’t mean that it’s not okay for teens. And this movie is not near... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byUSCTrojan May 13, 2012

What Parents Should know

This is not appropriate for your kids under 13.
This is for your kids that is 13 and up.

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.

Talk to your kids 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

  • In theaters: August 19, 2004
  • On DVD or streaming: March 1, 2005
  • Cast: James D'Arcy, Remy Sweeney
  • Director: Renny Harlin
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • Genre: Horror
  • Run time: 90 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: strong violence and gore, disturbing images and rituals, and for language
  • Last updated: October 28, 2020

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