The Manchurian Candidate

Starring Stellan Skarsgard, James D'Arcy, Izabella Scorupco. Directed by Renny Harlin.
Running Time: 114 mins
Rated: Rated R.

What's interesting about EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING isn't actually in the film, but, if a story printed in Variety is true, it will appear on the DVD. If that seems to fall short of an endorsement, it's because this fourth installment of William Friedkin's 1973 devil-makes-your-head-spin classic is not very good. It's not very scary, either. But it is gross, violent and thick with cheap twists and loud noises.

What is interesting about this film is this: Warner Bros originally hired Paul Schrader (the Academy Award winning writer of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ) to direct it. And he did. But the executives apparently felt the film was not sufficiently gory, so they hired Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2 or 3, who's counting?) to reshoot the entire film. Which he did. Badly.

If someone had warned me, I would have skipped the film and waited for the DVD. Because my guess is that Schrader's usual complex handling of moral ambiguities will be a more interesting rendering that Harlin's stylized, sepia-toned yawn.

Haden Grace is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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