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For the most part, films which were intended to frighten the viewing
audience usually succeed in instead producing involuntary laughs. So it
was nice to see a 'horror' film that not only has a brain for a change,
but actually succeeds in being frightening. It may help that the film
is allegedly based on true events, which gives credibility to the
storyline, and prevents the movie from having those annoyingly gaping
plot holes. And indeed, the heading "Based on a true story" doesn't
come off as a glaring lie. There are indeed events happening in the
film which are questionable as to whether they actually occurred in
real life, but the beauty of 'Emily Rose' is that most of the film is
retold by various characters, so the events described are as the
character perceived them. In this way, the film doesn't distance its
audience by declaring that "well, demons were in the film which was
'based on a true story', so demons must actually exist".
But in many ways, 'Emily Rose' is different from almost every past horror movie in the sense that it doesn't make really obvious attempts to frighten its audience. Instead, director/co-screenwriter Scott Derickson seems content to make us think. There are several questions raised in the film regarding religious beliefs and the public's general perception of them, but these are all handled in an objective and impartial manner. And as for the scare factor, since the filmmakers aren't overly obvious in trying to scare the audience, the film actually is frightening at several points - again, unusual for a horror film. The frightening events regarding Emily Rose's exorcism are all the more frightening as they don't seem horribly staged and predictable. (although the cheesy demonic animation, as shown in the trailer, could have been done far better) It's true that composer Christopher Young seems unable to resist the horror movie cliché of having horribly over-dramatic music which builds to a climax at the most frightening moment, but for the most part the movie is able to surpass the usual horror clichés.
It helps of course that the cast all deliver quality performances, the obvious standout being Jennifer Carpenter as Emily. Her possession scenes are nothing short of incredible, the sheer torment she seems capable of portraying is utterly captivating. Laura Linney also shines in the lead, giving a powerful and affecting performance as the attorney of the convicted priest who performed Emily Rose's exorcism. As said priest, Tom Wilkinson also manages to impress, delivering a quietly effective and very human performance. My only complaint is that the characters of Campbell Scott and Colm Feore were really badly written, coming off as the typical antagonistic figures, and nothing more. Both give satisfying performances, despite their one dimensional characters, especially Feore, who has always been talented at taking terribly written characters, and giving them life and personality nonetheless.
So The Exorcism of Emily Rose may not quite be the very best of its genre, but it certainly proves to be one of the more intelligently made ones. The director seems to have for once taken that extra step, and put aside the endless thrills and shocks in favor of making us think a bit. There are some cheesy effects, such as the demonic visions, but there are some genuinely frightening parts, especially the actual exorcism scene, mainly due to the chilling and captivating performance from Jennifer Carpenter as the title character. The principle cast members, Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson also give strong performances, bringing many layers to their characters. Quite the quality piece overall, and one worth seeing.
Ironically enough, "The Excorcism of Emily Rose" got released in my country (Belgium) synchronously with another similar, real-life lawsuit. A self-acclaimed exorcist has to justify the death of a young girl after performing inhuman rituals and fatal exorcism tricks. It's weird having seen this movie and then follow the lawsuit on TV and in newspapers. It's so easy to deny the existence of demonic possession and to brush aside exorcism as quackery, but then as this film shows you're also questioning people's beliefs and family values. Emily Rose is the sympathetic daughter of a poor but deeply religious rural family. Shortly after her long-anticipated start at the university, her body becomes the host of no less than 6 different demons. The priest of the little town where she lives, father Moore, is doing everything he can to purify Emily's body but the demons are too strong and she doesn't survive the exorcism. What makes this film different than the obvious 70's classic "The Exorcist" (which also entirely revolves on the possession of an innocent girl) is that the story takes place after the actual exorcism and in the courtroom where father Moore is on trial for negligent homicide. His ambitious lawyer Erin Bruner goes straight for the acquittal of her client, but father Moore only cares for telling Emily's story, despite the fact that this can cost him his career as a priest. The screenplay of this film was based on a true story and director Scott Derrickson does a great job in making the extended courtroom sequences interesting and compelling. The flashbacks, showing Emily's horrible decrepit, are very atmospheric and contain multiple shock-moments. The acting is sublime, with a powerful Tom Wilkinson as the devoted priest and an enchanting Jennifer Carpenter as the poor Emily Rose. This is not a full-blooded horror film, but definitely one of the most unsettling, disturbing and thought-provoking dramas of the last few years. Highly recommended!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Some people are going to be shocked by the last 15 minutes of the film.
It is NOT a remake or bad copy of "The Exorcist". That film is truly
understandings for reasons that are pretty much its psychological ties
to the fears in all of us. In "Emily Rose", the emphasis is on our
perspectives, and how it affects our choices. Laura Linney is truly
phenomenal in the film, and I sure hope she finally receives all the
prizes that have eluded in the last few years. As a side note, I have
just witnessed the remarkable work by Rachel Weisz in "The Contant
Gardener", and I have to state my opinion that Ms. Linney is a bit more
powerful and effective in her multi-layered performance as the defense
"Emily Rose" will have people talking because it demands its audience to take sides as it reveals the events that led to the exorcism of the title. In here, the church grants permission to go ahead and perform an exorcism on Emily Rose, the title character. Things turn out to be a little different, and suddenly the priest who performed the exorcism finds himself in the middle of a big mess. Throw in the elements of psychological and physical ailments versus theological beliefs, and you really have a collision of very powerful forces.
The film presents both sides quite well, and there are times when you have to really make an effort to avoid switching perspectives. In the end, it's very clear what the writers and filmmakers set out to do, but it's an intense and very emotional 2 hrs. The film works very well because of Wilkinson's fiery priest and the outstanding work of Campbell Scott. Yet it belongs to Laura Linney in what might be her most powerful performance yet. She truly presents a case, with steely assurance she is one of the best things to come out of Hollywood in the last two decades. Now we know her work "You Can Count on Me" and "Kinsey" were just the beginning. One could sense the power in the chilling closing scenes of "Mystic River" and her limited appearance in "The House of Mirth". Nothing comes close to what she achieves here.
I just saw this movie today and thought it was wonderful.
The acting was excellent, from one end to the other. The scenes, the flashbacks, the drama, the horror, the faith vs doubt theme ... all were entwined in a back-and-forth web that maintained constant focus on the strongest feature of all: the Story itself.
And what a Story! I won't give it away except to say that the plots and subplots and intrigue and characterizations were all woven together to spin a simply riveting, terrifying, provocative, endearing, challenging Story.
I really liked the multiple depictions of What Happens and How the Characters React. You see Something Happen; and then feel Fear; and then watch the Face of the Character on hand experience Fear; and then perhaps the order is slightly changed: you see the Face of the Character experience Fear as the Character gazes in terror over the viewer's shoulder. Then you see What the Character is looking at. And experience Fear.
I also really liked the legal conflict ... and the way the Story honored both sides. There's no doubt, ever, where our sympathies lie: with the Laura Linney character. Yet, the prosecutor is not at all a "straw man." He is give a great opening, and is effective and believable throughout. This enhanced greatly the Doubt vs Faith conflict that reinforced the Story throughout.
And through all this, the Priest's insistence that the Story should be told, is what really drove the action above all. This gave a feeling of authenticity to the Story that both made it appealing, and frightening.
A wonderful, wonderful, movie ... !
With the exception of the title, " Emily Rose" vs "Anneliese Michel",
this was an excellent adaptation of the book. Actually, one of the
consultants was Felicitas Goodman, the author and anthropologist who
studied this case and I believe, owns the audiotapes of the ritual.
It is actually more of a court room drama. However, there is no sparing of pure psychological terror. All and all an excellent movie. Other posters have observed that believing in Christianity or the lack thereof, is not shoved down the viewer's throats. It allows one to form their own opinion.
My only concern; the PG-13 rating. Way too intense for viewers 10-13 years old or younger.
I think one of the biggest problems with today's movie industry is that
in teasers and trailers most, if not all, of the action/special effects
are shown. Then you go see a movie because the trailer looks great only
to find out that you've basically seen all the good stuff. Thankfully,
I have learned that this is how many trailers work, but I still go see
a movie praying that I'm not wasting my hard-earned money on a really
expensive and really long commercial; let me savor something! I was
pleasantly surprised at The Exorcism of Emily Rose; going knowing that
it's not only about her exorcism, but also about the trial that
follows.This movie is also about alternatives,what ifs, and
perceptions. A good movie for psychology majors--as am I--who are
trying to learn about mental illness, diagnosis, and the DSM-IV.
You don't need to know much about Emily, science, exorcism, or the Bible to be able to follow this movie; but, if you do, it'll definitely make you raise questions about your own faith, beliefs, and what you've learned throughout life about yourself.
Will you like this movie? Think "Primal Fear" meets "The Exorcist" meets the TV Show "Fact or Fiction".
Yes, I know, we've seen too many mediocre horror movies in the past few
years. Yes, I'm fed up with horror stories that are "based on true
events", too, but don't write this movie off too soon. If you ignore
the assertion that this has all happened in reality and just accept
that you're in for a supernatural movie, you'll have a gay ol' time
with "The Exorcism Of The Emily Rose".
The first thing to mention is that there has never been a combination of horror movie and courtroom drama before, and while some reviewers have stated that the two genres don't go together well, I have to disagree. The courtroom setting added a lot of suspense to the story and horror movies always work best when there is suspense added to the spooky and creepy elements. And boy, does this movie have some creepy scenes.
The four main actors do a fine job and the restrained direction is pretty atmospheric too, except for some minor fashionable shots that are probably not going to age very well (for example, one time Scott Derrickson reverts to Darren Aronofsky-cam, which is already getting old). Anyway, the main attraction is the story itself, and as I've said, it's fast paced and exciting - at least until the third act. Up until that point it's hard to watch the screen at times because Derrickson uses his shock scenes so effectively and steers clear of any jump-clichés. Then a certain climax is reached, the movie reduces its supernatural elements and relies maybe a bit too much on the courtroom drama aspect. On the plus side Derrickson avoids going over the top like so many other horror movies do including embarrassing CGI-orgies in their showdowns. On the other hand, it is exactly that relatively quiet ending that prevents "The Exorcism Of Emily Rose" from becoming a real classic. One just has the feeling that the priest and the trial made a whole lot of fuss about nothing, because there's no real solution in the end.
"The Exorcism Of Emily Rose" has enough chilling moments not to be overshadowed by "The Exorcist", the big Kahuna of the exorcism genre, but it's not going to be remembered as a cornerstone of the horror genre. In 2005 you couldn't find a lot of spooky movies that were better than this one, though.
First of all this was a good movie. I wouldn't necessarily consider it
a horror movie like Friday The 13th but it was suspenseful like The
Ring. I had to look away sometimes because being a suspenseful movie
watcher all my life I knew by the sound of the chilling music something
was gonna happen that would freak me out and boy did it do its job.
It wasn't overly predictable. It was a look back on what exactly happened when Emily Rose got possessed and how it ended. It wasn't a "push the catholic belief down everyones throat" because defending the Priest was an agnostic lawyer trying to not only get ahead in her career but convince a journey that medical science could not determine she had a medical condition but a demonic possession. Cant tell you anymore than that.
The movie had a "dark" look and was cozy it kept me on the edge of my seat and the way she got possessed and how she looked was way freaky. Good movie and worth to own on DVD!
When one reads here the opinions of a lot of fellow cinema lovers on
this film they will realise that there are a lot of creditable
variables by which one perceives the ''right'' course this film should
To my mind though,technicalities and possible directorial ''irregularities'' are not what's most important about this film.This film shows strong ,excellent performances by all the main actors and the director has managed to make this seem like a real story that could have happened to just anybody.
We don't see the horrible violence of ''The Exorcist'' nor are the images and scenes shown as scary.What we see, lays emphasis on the drama and suffering of a girl and touches on the human side of things.I think that the perspective of this film is to a have more a social impact,not so much to be a horror film.
It conveys a lot of messages and stresses how important it is to have integrity how sometimes you have to sacrifice your ambitions ,to do what your heart tells you.How some life experiences change us,our personality,and give us a true,deeper wisdom and understanding of life.How they can make us revise some views that previously we thought were unshakeable.
Finally,the film provides an explanation why sometimes God allows some horrible things to take place and some people to become martyrs.
I do agree though that for a materialistic,atheistic person this film might be less ''thrilling'' than he would have expected it to be.I have called it a ''modest masterpiece'' because in a simple,humane,full of strong performances way,it touches our hearts and strengthens our beliefs in justice,moral values,and for those of us who believe,in God and His mercy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had the opportunity to view an advance showing on Thursday, August 25th. I didn't find one 'dull' spot what-so- ever. There's not much to say that wouldn't spoil the ending, although the ending for the most part was slightly predictable. It's what happens before ... the flash-backs, trial testimony, the suspense that wasn't predictable. I will most likely see this again once it hits the theaters. I was not the only one in the theater to 'jump out of my seat'. Although only rated PG-13, I personally would not recommend viewing by anyone under the age of 18, due to the intensity and religious beliefs. And to know this was based on a true story is the most disturbing ... I'm still wondering if she was possessed, or was it actually epilepsy?? Watch and make your own decision ... just be sure to keep a tight grip on your popcorn!
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