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Overall Rating

Awesome: 23.47%
Worth A Look36.73%
Average: 18.37%
Pretty Bad: 18.37%
Total Crap: 3.06%

8 reviews, 50 user ratings

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Exorcism of Emily Rose, The
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by EricDSnider

"Like 'The Exorcist,' except boring."
3 stars

Combine the gripping drama of "Law & Order" with the satanic frights of "The Exorcist" and you've got ... a movie that would be much better than "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," which borrows too heavily from one genre and not enough from another. It is, essentially, a flat courtroom movie that has been spiced up with a few scenes of demonic possession. I admit that this is a good way of enlivening a dreary legal proceeding; the problem here is that it hasn't been done extensively enough.

Set in an unspecified year in an unspecified city, the film (allegedly based on a true story) begins with the death of Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter), a college freshman who was either possessed by the devil or simply a psychotic-epileptic, depending on whom you ask. Her priest, Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson), is charged with reckless endangerment in her death, which occurred after he performed an unsuccessful exorcism.

The state puts Ethan Thomas (Campbell Scott) on the case because he's one of their best assistant district attorneys -- oh, and because he's also a church-going Christian, so he won't seem rabidly anti-Catholic. The church hires agnostic Scully type Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) to defend Father Moore. She doesn't believe in demons and devils, but I bet she starts believing when creepy things start happening in her house every night at 3 a.m.!

Oops, I've gotten ahead of myself. The film is set almost entirely in the courtroom. The scenes of Emily possessed (or whatever she was) are shown via flashback: Someone testifies on the stand, and we see the events they're describing. It's like "Cold Case," but without the era-appropriate pop songs.

The prosecution's case is that Emily was simply epileptic and psychotic, and that Father Moore was irresponsible in persuading her to stop taking her medication. The defense says there's no way of proving definitely that she was or wasn't possessed, nor that she was or wasn't epileptic-psychotic, for that matter. In a rather fascinating turn, Erin Bruner brings in an expert (Shohreh Aghdashloo) to testify on the science of demonic possession, lending some respectability to the otherwise crazy-sounding notion of a girl gettin' the devil in her.

Aside from that, it's your basic courtroom stuff, with a lot of objecting and striking from the record and approaching the bench and whatnot. Bruner even uses my favorite technique, wear you say something awful and unfair and then, when the opposition objects, simply say, "Withdrawn," and it's like it never happened. ("Your mother's a whore." "I object!" "Withdrawn.") If only that worked in life.

But wait, you say. You've seen the trailer for this movie and it looks super-scary! And it is. The trailer, I mean. The movie isn't. You know how some comedies put all the funny parts in the trailer? Well, if you've seen the ads for this film, you've seen all the creepy parts. I'm sorry to have to tell you that. Believe me, I'm as disappointed as you are.

They're fine as far as they go: intense scenes of the girl Linda Blairing it up while thunder crashes and hand-held cameras bounce around. Father Moore shouts his Latin; Emily responds in a foreign language and a Freddy Krueger voice (though without the vulgarisms that made "The Exorcist" such a hoot); bystanders genuflect and utter the names of deity in a way that is technically praying but sounds like swearing.

Director Scott Derrickson (who co-wrote the screenplay with Paul Harris Boardman) clearly digs this kind of thing. He previously made a direct-to-video "Hellraiser" sequel and written "Urban Legends: Final Cut." You wonder, then, why he'd make this movie, which so painfully neglects its exorcism story in favor of a drab legal one.

What a cast he got, too! Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson class up the joint quite a bit, working like pros to make their hacky dialogue sound reasonable. I'm a little embarrassed for Campbell Scott, though. Here he is, a great actor who doesn't get noticed enough, and he's blustering and overdoing his way through the first major role in a wide release that he's had in many years. Please ignore him here and go rent "Roger Dodger" or "The Secret Lives of Dentists" instead. I compel you, and the power of Campbell Scott compels you.

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originally posted: 09/09/05 15:38:20
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User Comments

3/31/17 IP It's decent 4 stars
10/30/16 morris campbell chilling the exorcist meets Law&order 4 stars
9/19/16 Alison Taylor Thought it was great! Don't get the neg reviews. I'm a screenwriter who studies filmmaking. 5 stars
12/29/13 Monday Morning Loathed it. 2 stars
3/19/12 Kelly Green Shows that they DO still make good horror flims! 5 stars
11/25/08 CTT Courtroom/horror hybrid does neither well enough 3 stars
10/16/08 Jon Rather frightening that something similar to this really happened. Really tests beliefs. 5 stars
4/27/08 Jack Sommersby Pretty adequate stuff that managed to truly frighten me in places. 3 stars
3/10/08 Jayme Isaacs Good Movie 5 stars
11/28/07 mb I left it after 36 min 2 stars
11/20/07 R.W.Welch Reasonably spooky and mostly interesting fictionalization of German possession case. C+ 3 stars
9/21/07 Airra The actress who played as Emily Rose should've been nominated for the Academy Awards. 5 stars
9/17/07 William Goss Carpenter is good, but not good enough in courtroom drama laced w/ fright-based flashbacks. 4 stars
7/11/07 Hello Stranger lagged and dragged moslty. but this is challenging to beliefs.great acting by Carpenter 4 stars
5/01/07 Indian dude What the hell was this? The whole movie was about a damn court case. 1 stars
2/17/07 Vip Ebriega One of the most religous thrillers since 'The Exorcist' and 'The Omen'. 3 stars
1/22/07 David A. It combines horror and courtroom drama, making you question your own beliefs. 4 stars
10/22/06 veronique i don't scare easily but this movie almost made me cry. EXCELLENT!!!! 5 stars
7/24/06 JenDenmark A scary movie that is actually scary!! Great casting as well! 5 stars
6/30/06 MP Bartley A mixture of genres that really shouldn't work...but does to great effect. 4 stars
6/02/06 LC I fell asleep towards the end. 2 stars
4/03/06 Keely TOTALLY AWESOME acting, storyline, sound effects-not just another dumb horror. LOVED IT!!! 5 stars
3/08/06 richard citra good film 4 stars
2/21/06 Indrid Cold The freak-out sequence a la Jacob's Ladder is cool, but otherwise just OK. 3 stars
1/17/06 gabi it was ok 4 stars
12/10/05 ahmed kamal awadallah i really felt it 5 stars
11/30/05 Gogo movie was great for me coz i was interested in law and of Emily Rose story, ppl disagreed 5 stars
11/28/05 Aisha pretty creepy film worth watching 4 stars
11/09/05 Alice Very good acting! One of the better excorsism movies. 4 stars
11/01/05 john bale Using a Court Room as basis for flashbacks this is a frightening essay, well scripted acted 5 stars
11/01/05 M Excorsist' had pea-soup vomit and spinning heads, 'Emily Rose' is a true story! scared?? 5 stars
11/01/05 Damien That Damn Movie was Great 5 stars
10/25/05 DEEDeeDEEe All I can Say is,If You dont wear Dipers now would be a good time, BASED ON TRUE SHIT! WTF 4 stars
10/24/05 Shamus "Would you like some horror with your horror movie, sir?" 2 stars
10/24/05 GiR I almost peed my pants. what great acting, 'cuz it freaked the hell outta me. 4 stars
10/24/05 M. Mediocre would be high praise. One of the most boring movies I have ever seen. 1 stars
10/07/05 Louise McChrystal It was good, scary in a good way, good actors 4 stars
10/07/05 Carolyn Rathburn Eerie, just plain eerie 4 stars
9/30/05 Brad K. Wait for it to come out on video. Waste of $10. 2 stars
9/29/05 Angela J A great movie for thinkers! 4 stars
9/26/05 brittney very deep.. people who are religous.. very deep for them 5 stars
9/22/05 maktabozzahra very 1 stars
9/17/05 keith mccormick xcellent challenge viewers to question what is personal reality 5 stars
9/15/05 jcjs nice 4 stars
9/13/05 Robert In a strange way it is better than what I had expected. Certainly worth the viewing. 4 stars
9/13/05 David McDaniel boring and long 2 stars
9/12/05 Raul Trevino This movie scared the hell out of me! Driving home 45 miles in the dark was another story. 5 stars
9/10/05 bobbi Very good story. It told the facts as people saw them from differing points of view. 4 stars
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  09-Sep-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Dec-2005



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