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Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist
File:Dominion A Prequel to the Exorcist
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Paul Schrader
Produced by James G. Robinson
Written by William Wisher
Caleb Carr
Starring Stellan Skarsgård
Gabriel Mann
Music by Angelo Badalamenti
Dog Fashion Disco
Trevor Rabin
Cinematography Vittorio Storaro
Editing by Tim Silano
Studio Morgan Creek Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) May 20, 2005 (2005-05-20)
Running time 117 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30,000,000
Gross revenue $251,495

Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist is a 2005 supernatural horror film directed by Paul Schrader. It is a prequel to The Exorcist (1973).



Many years before the events in The Exorcist, the young Father Lankester Merrin (played by Skarsgård, who played the same part in Exorcist: The Beginning) travels to East Africa. Merrin has taken a sabbatical from the Church and devoted himself to history and archaeology as he struggles with his shattered faith. He is haunted especially by an incident in small village in occupied Holland during World War II, where he served as parish priest. Near the end of the war, a sadistic Nazi SS commander, in retaliation for the murder of a German trooper, forces Merrin to participate in arbitrary executions in order to save a full village from slaughter.

He meets up with a team of archaeologists, who are seeking to unearth a church that they believe has been buried for centuries. At first, Merrin resists the idea that supernatural forces are in play, but eventually helps them, and the ensuing events result in an encounter with Pazuzu, the same demon referenced in The Exorcist.


Actor Role
Stellan Skarsgård Father Lankester Merrin
Gabriel Mann Father Francis
Clara Bellar Rachel Lesno
Billy Crawford Cheche
Ralph Brown Sgt. Maj. Harris
Israel Aduramo Jomo
Andrew French Chuma
Antonie Kamerling Kessel
Julian Wadham Maj. Granville
Mary Beth Hurt (uncredited) Voice of possessed Cheche


Dominion was essentially completed, then shelved by Morgan Creek Productions, who feared the film would be unsuccessful and replaced Schrader with Renny Harlin as the director to make a new version of the film, Exorcist: The Beginning (2004). This film used the same plot and much of the same footage as Dominion but attempted to make it more of a conventional horror film. But after poor audience and critical response to Harlin's version, Morgan Creek gave around $35,000 to Paul Schrader to finish his version;[1][2] Morgan Creek also allowed Warner Bros to release Schrader's version theatrically under the title Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist. It was released to limited showing in May 2005.




While William Peter Blatty, the author and screenwriter of The Exorcist, described Dominion as "a handsome, classy, elegant piece of work",[3] critical reaction to the film has nonetheless been mixed to negative. Many critics slated that it is only slightly better than Harlin's version, holding a rating of 29% on Rotten Tomatoes[4] and a score of 55 out of 100 on Metacritic[5], whereas Exorcist: The Beginning holds a rating of 11% on Rotten Tomatoes[6] and a score of 30 out of 100 on Metacritic[7].

Nonetheless, the good reviews Dominion did get were much more positive than those of Harlin's version. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it three stars out of four, and wrote that it "does something risky and daring in this time of jaded horror movies: it takes evil seriously."[8] Leslie Felperin of Variety magazine wrote that this film is " intelligent, quietly subversive" and "Schrader has delivered a 100% Paul Schrader film, drenched in the spiritual and moral angst that's watermarked his career from Taxi Driver (as a writer) to Auto Focus (as a director)." [9]

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly said that "Schrader's film is a notch better than Harlin's, but when you boil out the demon feathers, it's the same damn movie."[10] Scott Tobias of The Onion's A.V. Club said that "Skarsgård [gives] a quietly mesmerizing performance," and that "Schrader's movie isn't particularly scary, but it's more substantive than The Exorcist and its sequels, because it takes demon possession out of head-spinning literalism and considers evil as something more real and commonplace."[11]

David Edelstein of the magazine Slate said the film is "a good, thoughtful horror picture, and [very] close to being a very good one.[12] Brent Simon of IGN gave the film a score of 4 out of 10, saying: "The overall feeling Dominion gives off is one of rootless languor. You keep waiting for someone or something to show up and seize control of the picture, but it never really happens until the final confrontation, which feels like it might as well come from a different movie. It's not blood or gore that's missing, it's context; Dominion is too polite and urbane to frighten. [13]

Home media

The film was released on DVD October 25, 2005 by Warner Home Video and included deleted scenes, photo gallery, and an audio commentary by director Paul Schrader. On October 10, 2006, the film was released with The Exorcist, The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen, Exorcist II: The Heretic, The Exorcist III and Exorcist: The Beginning in a box set titled The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology.


  1. ^ "Trivia for Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist". IMDB. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  2. ^ Mottram, James (14 October 2005). "Paul Schrader: Exorcising his demons". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  3. ^ Westbrook, Bruce (May 21, 2005). ""Dominion" director says he feels vindication with movie's release - Latest prequel on demons matches Harlin's version". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  4. ^ Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist reviews, Rotten Tomatoes
  5. ^ Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist reviews, Metacritic
  6. ^ Exorcist: The Beginning reviews, Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ Exorcist: The Beginning reviews, Metacritic
  8. ^ Review, Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, May 19, 2005
  9. ^ Felperin, Leslie (March 18, 2005). "Exorcist: The Prequel Movie Review". Variety. 
  10. ^ Review, Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly, 2005
  11. ^ Review, Scott Tobias, The A.V. Club, May 24th, 2005
  12. ^ Review, David Edelstein, Slate
  13. ^ Review, Brent Simon, IGN, October 27, 2005

External links


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