Exorcist: The Beginning is a 2004 prequel to the 1973 film The Exorcist. It is the fourth installment of The Exorcist series. It was adapted by William Wisher Jr., Caleb Carr, and Alexi Hawley and was directed by Renny Harlin. The movie stars Stellan Skarsgård, Izabella Scorupco, James D'Arcy, Ben Cross, Ralph Brown, and Alan Ford.

    Exorcist: The Beginning was retooled from Paul Schrader's already completed Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, which Morgan Creek Productions executives feared would be unsuccessful. Reviews for Harlin's film were overwhelmingly negative, and it was not a financial success. Schrader was subsequently allowed to release his version of Dominion, which was somewhat better reviewed than Harlin's film but still earned mostly negative reviews.

    The plot revolves around the crisis of faith suffered by Father Lankester Merrin following the horrific events he witnessed during World War II. Many years before the events in The Exorcist, the young Father Merrin (played by Skarsgård, who played the same part in Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist) 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 a 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.