I was watching a movie where a church is discovered in the middle of the desert somewhere in Africa. A church that was built before Christianity came to that part of the continent. Inside the church, archeologist find images of Lucifer and a statue of Jesus that is hanging upside down. The earlier archeologist has gone mad and was sent to an asylum. In the town nearby, strange things started to happen – a young boy seemed to be possessed, people falling out sick without any symptoms and a boy is brutally killed by hyenas that appears from nowhere.
I first watched the movie couple days ago but at the moment when the boy was brutally being attacked by hyenas, the TV lost signal. I left watching other shows wondering what will happen in the end. Luckily for me, there was a re-run of the movie yesterday. So, I managed to reach the hotel early, took my shower and tucked in for the movie. Timing could not been more perfect, the movie started at about 11.00 at night. So, imagine the atmosphere watching a horror movie in a dark cold room. Just perfect!
I had watched the original Exorcist movie a long time ago and had expected some “horror” moments with this one. I was not disappointed. It has been sometime since I watched a really good horror movie.
Stellan Skarsgard plays Father Merlin, a fallout priest turned archeologist who was paid to assist in an excavation of an artifact from a church discovered in an African desert. He was no Indiana Jones but he keeps his cool despite the strange things that is happening around him. The setting of the story was slow and steady. Passing of graves of people who have died of some mysterious plague, the natives who are suspicious of the dig and strange things happening in the town was a good way to built up the suspense.
The best part was this – 2 boys (brothers) arguing among themselves over a piece of digging tool. The older brother being the bigger in size would grab hold on the tool and would start teasing the younger brother. Their pet monkey would be screaming near them. All the sudden the pet monkey will turn into hyena and would start attacking the older brother. The attack is brutal and it looks real (the blood, the screams and the horror look on the faces). Other hyenas join the attack and it completely ignores the younger brother who is standing close. He looks possessed. The father of the boys would come in with a rifle and despite the best efforts by him and the priest to shoot down the hyenas, the hyenas manages to drag the body of the older brother into the night. The body would never be found. Sound creepy doesn’t it?
The director, Renny Harlin (director of Die Hard 2 & Cliffhanger) was wise enough not to overdo the story – just the right amount of suspense, little bit of paranormal activities and finally a more logical showdown with the demon itself. The finally setting of the “fight” is also done in the right place – in a cave just below the church. The shadows created by the lamp carried by the priest leave you wondering whether the demon is hiding in the shadows. You just will not know what is creeping in the dark corners of the cave (those who have been to the Batu Caves will know what I mean). Can you imagine this – you are crawling in one of the smaller tunnels with a lamp, the vision is not that good – you can’t see far and the way ahead is dark and to make it worse, you have to struggle to push your way through the small tunnel. Then when you put the lamp in front to see, you find the demon staring back at you in the tunnel. There is no way to run. You are trapped! That what happens in the movie – the priest gets badly hit.
In the end, although the outcome was predictable – good wins over the evil, not everyone was going back happily ever after. The lady who the demon possessed lies dead, so does the soldiers sent to protect the digging site and rest of the people who was helping the priest.
(Note: all pictures are copyright to Warner Bros)