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The Exorcism Of Emily Rose (2005)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment Special Edition)
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5.7
 / 10
19 votes
Genres:
Courtroom Drama, Drama, Horror, Psychological Thriller, Religious Horror, Supernatural Horror
Director:
Scott Derrickson Scott Derrickson
Starring:
Laura Linney Laura Linney
Tom Wilkinson Tom Wilkinson
Campbell Scott Campbell Scott
Jennifer Carpenter Jennifer Carpenter
Colm Feore Colm Feore
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: September 14, 2005
There will be lots of people who leave "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" feeling cheated and deceived. Believe it or not, a large majority of Americans base what films they choose to see on the trailers that air before other films, on on national television. Most people rely on movie trailers to give them a brief and exciting summation of the basic idea of the film. The trailers for "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" were the most deceptive I have ever seen, leading most to believe that the film was a horror film, in the tradition of "The Exorcist", with far more visual scares and elements of the macabre. Who would have thought that the film was actually going to be a hard-hitting courtroom drama with the occasional horrific flashback? Not me. Not most moviegoers. I left the theatre, not feeling cheated, but feeling as if the studio screwed up. Why did they attempt to hide the fact that the film had a core of substance? Would having changed the trailer have altered the box office intake of the film, which rests comfortably at around $30 million? This film was an enjoyable theatrical experience, but would have been better if I didn't keep thinking about how much the studio lied to their audiences with the trailers.

Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) is your typical, everyday teenage girl, except for a few minor eccentricities: (01) her parents are borderlines religious zealots who don't approve of dancing or boys; (02) she looks and dresses like Laura Ingalls Wilder; and, (03) she just so happens to be possessed by the devil. Well, so we think. The film tells the story of Emily Rose through Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson), the Catholic priest who performed her exorcism, and defense attorney Erin Bruner (Laura Linney), who reluctantly accepts the case in order to make senior partner at her firm. The film follows the trial, through the opening statements, the witnesses, the cross examinations, and the closing statements. All the while, we are treated to flashback sequences of what really happened to Emily Rose, including a recollection of the exorcism ritual itself. Campbell Scott co-stars as prosecutor Ethan Thomas, an unsympathetic attorney with religious convictions and a desire to see Father Moore put away for a long time. The defense claims that Emily Rose was the victim of demonic possession and that Father Moore only did what was best for her, not contributing to her death. The prosecution claim that Emily suffered from both epilepsy and psychosis, which caused her hallucinations and other "abnormal" behavior. So, was she possessed or epileptic? The film lets you decide. There are arguments for both theories... you will choose the one that suits your beliefs. Are demons real? Laura Linney changes her mind... maybe you will also.

Films about exorcism, whether they be remakes or sequels, or similarly themed pictures, are always at a disadvantage. The ultimate exorcism film, "The Exorcist", has already been released and there seems to be little chance of it being topped anytime soon. "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" tries its damnedest, but falls short. For starters, Emily Rose is not quite as sympathetic as you might think. By all accounts she is a good, honest, Christian, but I never really felt that bad for her - not in the same way I felt sorry for Linda Blair in "The Exorcist", the poor little girl affected by demons. I also disliked the way in which much of the courtroom dialogue and drama seemed like leftovers from reruns of "The Practice". I would swear that most of those opening and closing statements have been used over and over again by Dylan McDermott. But, the biggest problem I had with the film was the entire point of the film. Tom Wilkinson makes it clear, early on, that his primary goal is to "tell Emily Rose's story". Does he ever do this? Sure, he plays the tape recorder of the exorcism, and he reads her letter aloud, but this is the same story that her family knew. There is nothing extraordinary about what he is saying. We know she thought she was possessed. We hear from others what she experienced. We know that she eventually died. What was the super secret story that only Father Moore could tell about Emily Rose? If this is going to be your big selling point, it needs to be more crucial than she heard the Virgin Mary speaking in a field. There are wackos out there now having conversations with the Virgin Mary, and probably somewhere in a field, just like Emily Rose. It was not quite convincing.

In regards to the performances, there is not much to say. Most of the performances were rather rigid, though enjoyable. Laura Linney plays her character like it is a movie of the week on your local network station. She never really works up any genuine emotion. She cries a couple of times, but they seem empty. Tom Wilkinson, whom usually steals any scene he is in, is tepid here - I assume brought along for reputation alone. He makes a good priest, but not when he is asking a demon for his name. The real standouts here are Campbell Scott as the prosecuting attorney, and Jennifer Carpenter as the possessed girl. Carpenter is obviously not a very trained actress, but she goes through pure torture in this role and I respect her for being able to bend like a pretzel on command. Otherwise, the supporting performances were just there for the sake of being there. And, I love Shohreh Aghdashloo, but even that extended accent got on my nerves. Think of the performances here as some akin to the performances in a film like "First Do No Harm" - top notch actors working with a made-for-television screenplay.

Given all of my negative comments about the film, you might that I am giving "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" a negative review. Wrong. Even with all of the problems with the film, I found myself captivated by the story. Director Scott Derrickson approached the film in the correct manner and ended up giving us kinetic exorcism scene that truly goes down as one of the best. He also manages to use flashbacks to his advantage, taking away from the corniness that usually accompanies them. "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" thrives in those flashback scenes. Without them, it drops to a level at which few films are found. I did not leave the theatre thinking I had been handed a masterpiece, nor did I leave the theatre under the impression that this film was going to dominate the box office. It certainly did the latter. "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" is 75% mediocre made-for-television mumbo jumbo, and 25% exciting and terrifying flashbacks. That 25% was enough to make me recommend this movie. Don't go in expecting a straight-laced horror film and you might not be as disappointed. Go in expecting "A Civil Action" meets "Exorcist II: The Heretic", and you might not be disappointed. Go in expecting what you saw on the trailer, and you will writing angry letters to Screen Gems. Trust me.

6/10.
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Kristofer #1: Kristofer - added 09/17/2005, 03:17 AM
we must serparate this movie from "The Exorcist." we must let this film stand on its own. and everyone must let the trailor go. the studio really messed up when it came to marketing. thats all. please see the movie to see the movie. dont look at the three minute trailer & expect a two hour version of it.
Chad #2: Chad - added 01/09/2006, 03:01 PM
Agreed with Kristofer. I saw the movie knowing from the start that this wouldn't be a horror film, so the fact that I was never disappointed and I didn't feel cheated may have changed my outlook a bit by the time the credits rolled. Regardless, I enjoyed the hell out of this film. 9/10.
ScarsRstarS #3: ScarsRstarS - added 01/10/2006, 08:43 AM
Thought it absolutly Sucked. The clip they showed you on the TV of the faces in teh car was the only bit i liked and that was like " oh that it"
danimigra #4: danimigra - added 03/15/2008, 05:27 PM
6/10 is fine for me.
Tristan #5: Tristan - added 05/03/2009, 05:20 PM
I'm with Chad on this. I knew it wasn't a horror film, and I wasn't looking for another The Exorcist. It was basically a courtroom drama that just happened to be about an exorcism. Some really neat visuals scattered throughout, and I found it very interesting.

8/10
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