Reviewed by: Gator MacReady

If you've been waiting for this with manic impatience, you're in for a disappointment. I have yet to see Renny Harlin's version, but I've heard enough bad things to assure you that this is probably the better of the two, which certainly doesn't mean it's any good.

Actually, Dominion is long-winded, overwrought and totally without a climax.

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Father Merrin (the incredibly cool Stellan Skarsgard) is a priest, who's lost his faith (as all movie priests invariably do), digging in Africa with a bunch of archaeologists (hang on, I thought he was just a priest), like he was when played by Max Von Sydow in the original Exorcist. But those events have yet to take place and Merrin is about to have his first encounter with the demon Pazuzu.

Yes, that's right, it's NOT the Devil, folks, and it never was.

Along with his crew of local African workers, Merrin uncovers a mysterious church, origins unknown and never explained, that has been deliberately buried under a cliff. Why would someone build a church, only to cover it up? Why are the statues pointing their spears down? Anyone with half a brain would leg it out of there immediately and not look, but this is a horror movie and must stick to the logic of the genre.

To make the brewing evil even more apparent, Cheche, a local cripple, rejected by the community, seems to be healing at an impossible rate. Why? I can only assume it's because Pazuzu wants to possess him and doesn't want a crappy body. And that he does. But it's not as chilling as the possession of Regan. And I have no clue why he doesn't chose someone a bit more able bodied. Or even good looking.

Cue endless shots of soldiers stomping around, scenes of sergeant majors acting like pricks and Merrin and his sidekick priest looking at the newly uncovered church, asking, "What is this place?" about 86 times. Characters come and go and serve no purpose. The drama is obvious and nothing remarkable. Some people are killed and it's quite graphic and shocking, but by this point the fatigue of the film has already caused it to keel over and die.

Finally, the fully possessed Cheche, resembling a completely shaven Jimmy Somerville, who wouldn't look out of place in a gay fisting club, runs riot, but does no acts of evil at all, unless you count floating in the air, or lying down on a rock, evil. He sends Merrin back in time in an attempt to convince him that the horrors of being persecuted by the Nazis in WWII were unavoidable.

Well, you got him over the guilt and you've given him his faith back. Thanks Pazuzu, you're a big help. And really evil, too. Now that Merrin loves God again he can kick your ass with a vial of holy water. Wow, is this exciting!

Poor Skarsgard, having to suffer the indignity four times, with filming it twice and then seeing it released twice. He deserves better and does as much as he can with a hopelessly flat script.

Dominion is bad. Anyone expecting a "whole new experience," or "the real untameable" version of the film will be rather pissed off. It gets two stars purely because it's not aimed at the slasher crowd. Mind games and subversive, even offensive horror is more than welcome these days. But Dominion falls far short in every area and you'll forget it minutes after leaving the cinema.

Reviewed on: 25 Aug 2005
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Dominion packshot
Before The Exorcist came the demon Pazuzu.
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Director: Paul Schrader

Writer: William Peter Blatty, William Wisher Jnr, Caleb Carr

Starring: Stellan Skarsgard, Gabriel Mann, Clara Bellar, Billy Crawford, Ralph Brown, Israel Adurama, Andrew French, Antonie Kamerling, Julian Wadham, Eddie Osei

Year: 2004

Runtime: 117 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


EIFF 2005

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If you like this, try:

Exorcist: The Beginning