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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

Exorcism of Emily Rose, The
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by Doug Bentin

"This one comes dangerously close to bait and switch."
4 stars

There’s something a little off-putting about “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” but the problem is created by the marketing of the film rather than by the film itself. The posters feature the word “Exorcism” is large letters while the rest of the title peeks out from under them. The trailer highlighted only those horror-movie scenes of a young woman being pursued by demons.

And then the movie turns out to be more about a trial for negligent homicide and a defense attorney’s attempt to put the extremes of religious belief on trial. Yes, we see the horror stuff in flashbacks as the witnesses tell their stories, but the movie is essentially a courtroom drama. It’s a pretty good one, and many of the issues raised during the trial make for good water cooler discussions, but it’s all still dangerously close to being a classic bait and switch, especially for fans of horror movies—the very demographic that is most likely to be interested in this material.
Catholic priest Fr. Richard Moore (a suitably determined Tom Wilkinson) was called to the Rose home (note the religious symbolism in the family’s surname) when the eldest daughter Emily, a college student (Jennifer Carpenter, a world-class screamer who is given very little to do but twist and shout) is brought back from school by her worried boyfriend Jason (Joshua Close). On campus, Emily had been diagnosed as being epileptic and psychotic due to a series of events in which she believed she was being hounded and possessed by demons.
After several discussion with Fr. Moore, during which he advises her to stop taking the medicine prescribed by the university doctors, Emily and her family agree to an exorcism. Fr. Moore gets the approval of the archdiocese and the treatment of her spiritual agony begins. I know you can’t stretch out a movie like this, but I think that letting us sit in on at least one of the priest’s discussions with the young woman would have been helpful.
After several failed attempts to draw out the demons, Emily’s body finally gives out and she dies. The state puts the priest on trial claiming that his interference with her medication is what caused her death. His defense attorney (Laura Linney), who actually represents the archdiocese and who has been promised a full partnership in her law firm if she can keep the case’s profile as low as possible, comes to the conclusion that proving the existence of the supernatural is the best way to go.
One of the many things we are not told is exactly where these events are unfolding. No one speaks with any particular dialect. This is only important, if it is at all, considering that in some parts of America the whole demons-exist-whether-you-believe-in-them-or-not thing would be an easier sell in the courtroom than it would be in other parts. Deciding on whether or not you agree with the lawyer’s strategy is difficult without this kind of basic information.
The script by Paul Harris Boardman and director Scott Derrickson, inspired by the true case in 1976 of a German student named Anneliese Michel, does raise some interesting questions about a reliance on religious faith over medical expertise, and Derrickson does a nice job in the flashbacks of making the religious testimony look spooky and then making the medical interpretation look tragic but reasonable by showing us the same action as seen from a more skeptical view point.
Ultimately, I think the movie comes down decidedly on one side over the other, but I suspect that viewers who don’t think as I do about the issues might very well see the picture in the opposite light.
Remember those old television commercials wherein chocolate got mixed with peanut butter at first to the consternation of the character on screen, and then to his delight? I don’t think many viewers of this film will be delighted by its blend of genres.
And yet, the mix is symbolic of the movie’s central dilemma. The courtroom represents reason, sanity, civilization. The horror represents emotion, madness, intellectual atavism. Genre fans are asked to take sides, just as the jury is.

So the question for fans of genre films is, does the movie dilute the scares too much with all the talk in the courtroom. Fans of courtroom drama will want to know if there’s too much silly horror movie hoo-ha. Yes and no. No and yes. I found the film to be fascinating all the way through and I’m a fan of both genres.

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originally posted: 09/21/05 22:58:15
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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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