In Exorcist: The Beginning (2004), Father Merrin cannot shake the horrors he experienced in Holland during World War II. In the village where Merrin served, an SS soldier was shot and killed. In retribution, the local SS officer first shoots a small girl in the head and then threatens to kill everyone else present on the snowy square. However, Merrin is given the option to save most of them by instead telling the officer who he should execute. Merrin suggests himself, but the officer does not accept his sacrifice. Merrin is then made to point randomly at his congregation and watch as the officer shoots his parishioners. His faith in God shaken, Merrin has relinquished his profession and turned to the frontier science of archaeology. Based in Cairo, in British-controlled Egypt, Merrin is approached by a collector of antiquities who wants him to go to Kenya where the British are excavating an ancient Byzantine church and retrieve an ancient relic. In Africa, Merrin has to confront an ancient evil that resides in the very land itself. The church that is excavated is not an actual church but a kind of guardian relic in its own right, built on the site where Satan supposedly struck the Earth after having been hurled from heaven. Statues of warrior angels with spears line the inside of the church, their weapons directed down into the ground. Even so, evil emanates from this place and infects everyone who wanders into the vicinity. Hyenas stalk the excavation site and attack a young child in a scene that is gruesome despite the poor CGI. Diggers have seizures, the British and local tribes clash violently, and the chief archaeologist is ‘touched’ by the demon Pazuzu, carves a swastika into his chest and cuts his own throat.