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An excellent combination of courtroom drama surrounding the exorcism
ritual and the supernatural forces along with equally potent acting. If
observed closely, it is an unbiased portray of religious beliefs,
superstitions, existence of God and Devil and the position of science
on all this. Being based on a true story makes it more dramatic.
The story is based on court trial where an ambitious lawyer Erin (Laura Linney) is defending the priest (Tom Wilkinson) who performed exorcism on Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) - a young, high spirited devout catholic. State charges the priest of negligence that led to Emily's demise, but he is ready to face and share the truth to the public on what actually transpired.
What I liked most is that it is all left to perspective of different people how they perceive supernatural existence. On the account of the priest, Rose's family and Emily herself - the devil, the magic and the visuals are vivid. But on the accounts of those who are skeptical, the manifestations are purely coincidental which leaves the witness to perceive what they want to believe. When it comes to performances, they are convincing and apt. The exorcism and possession scenes are short and intense. Jennifer Carpenter's portrayal of Emily Rose converting from a young sweet girl full of life to a person suffering unbearable pain both physical and psychological is quite brilliant considering I would have never given her a chance from what I had seen her as Debra Morgan in Dexter. Not so much gore or visual gimmicks or cheap thrills. Screenplay and editing is at times could have been a little more smoother and the end need not have lingered on for too long.
Intense, unbiased and compelling.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Emily Rose" was a great and powerful film.
It was a great idea to center the film around the court case, rather than going for a straight horror approach. The whole medical explanation vs spiritual explanation debate of the case is what makes the film so entertaining. And they leave it open ended, as both sides plead their case very well, leaving some audience members convinced of one, others convinced of the other.
Regardless, it gets the audience thinking, examining, exploring the possibilities available. Very well done. Great script, great visually, great sound. Very very well done. Strong performances by Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson (who even looks like a priest), Jennifer Carpenter, Campbell Scott, and Duncan Fraser. I really enjoyed this film. One of the most gripping and entertaining films of the year, by far. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, guessing who's going to win the trial, as the momentum sways back and forth. I highly recommend seeing this film. In a year of terrible films, this one has few peers.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was pleasantly surprised by this film and would recommend it. I
wasn't expecting a lot based on the IMDb score of 6.9 and the fact I
had never heard of it - but it was well worth watching.
The movie plot revolves a round a young woman going to college and coming back seemingly possessed.
There are elements of a courtroom drama about this but I would say this is a suspense thriller rather than a horror. It was fairly scary in places (which a lot of supposed horror movies aren't) and wasn't boring or predictable. The movie was quite well paced, every time you thought it might get a bit dull we saw some more spooky goings-on!
The dynamics between the key characters (particularly the defense lawyer and priest) is interesting and well thought out.
I think ever since the Exorcist came out in 1973 the exorcism sub-genre
has been struggling with few good films. Some of it's due to the fact
that every single exorcism film will be unfairly compared with the '73
classic. Some of the other reasons are that they really were a bad
film. Other reasons is devoted atheists will more than likely shoot the
film down just because of the film's subject matter and having heavily
to do with the Christian faith. But they will be able to enjoy
Paranormal Activity (another sort of demon type movie) because it's not
religiously heavy handed. So in short if you are one of those people
who can't enjoy the film because of your faith then don't watch it,
this is clearly not your type of film. Other people who regardless of
their faith are willing to accept the film and watch it for what it
then you will enjoy. For this is the smartest and by far the scariest
exorcism film to come out since the original classic.
The film is about a lawyer that takes the defense of the priest (in the wake of his trail) who performed an exorcism on a girl named Emily Rose.
The story is told in a much different way they many other films. This is a film told in flashbacks, everything is being told from a court room. So as witnesses testify we are given glimpses of what happen to this seemingly normal girl. The film fills the screen with so much symbolism that you can pick out throughout the film that clearly foreshadows where the scene is going. As we watch helplessly seeing this girl being tortured by the demons inside of her. Every time we flashback we have a feeling of dread that comes over us and will want to look away because we will be afraid of what we might see. And the film does this to great affect but and we can feel a little safer again in the court room where we can let out a big gulp of air. But soon once we leave the court room we start feeling unsafe again as the priest named Father Moore warns the lawyer named Erin Burner that there are dark forces surrounding this trial. So once again we are freighted almost anywhere you go and even when you get back to the court room you know that you are going to another place that you don't want to go and when a film does that and pins you in this almost trap then it's done a great job.
The scene of the exorcism is fantastically well done. It's a very memorable scene and everything strikes the right cord of horror. Even within the realms of a PG-13 rating they get a lot of scary and graphic in nature stuff filmed. From the cracking bones to the voice to Emily Rose chanting the numbers 1-6, this is a spine tingling scene.
But the film is all about scares in the dark there are some deep meaningful conversations throughout the film. Most importantly between Father Moore and Erin Burner and it's not always about the case they talk about some really good topics and the deepest of them are the questions of faith. These conversations will get you to think about yourself a little. It's not in your face about anything but this talks don't back down from saying certain things which I really like.
But however everything is not as perfect as it seems. One of the things is that we never really got to know Emily Rose at all. It never goes into much detail over her past of personality other than just saying that she was a good girl that is going off to college. I think the film would have been that much better if we really got to know who this person is because we would be a lot more connected to the person that is possessed and would have made it more connectible I would say. And also the problem with setting this as a flashback we already know what happens to the girl. This wouldn't be a problem if we knew the girl better so it would make us helpless watch this girl suffer and know her faith and simply can't do a thing about it. But instead it just goes here you the ending and here is right happened to her. Don't get me wrong the story is strong but it would have been so much stronger if we knew Emily Rose better.
Director/screenwriter Scott Derrickson fills the screen with good art direction and good symbolism and is did a good job with the film. He shoots the film with great attention to detail and the symbolism is really good too. The 3:00 A.M. with forever frighten me and especially if I smell something burning. The face in the clouds and the rain it was done just right. Maybe he could have made the film longer for this would benefit the transformation of Emily Rose more but for what it is he did a great job.
The musical score by Christopher Young is also really good. It gives a very haunting and thrilling score throughout. It's not really memorable or a masterpiece but it still is very well done.
The acting is top notch too. Tom Wilkinson plays Father Moore perfectly and gives a fantastic performance like he always does. It should have been up for academy award consideration but unfortunately it wasn't. Laura Linney gives a very good performance as the lawyer Erin Burner. Jennifer Carpenter was really good as Emily Rose. As is Campbell Scott and everyone else in the cast this cast and they deliver on all notes.
The Bottom Line is this is a smart; scary exorcism film that while is not perfect is very good.
This movie did not have a lot that impressed me about it. The acting is
not particularly good. It constantly feels like a television show
rather than a movie. I kept thinking I was watching "Law and Order".
The first half of the movie is a bit scary, but it was mostly the use
of sound effects that made it scary. I know that many horror/suspense
movies use auditory stimuli to heighten the fear response - but it was
very transparent in this movie. In a better executed film, you don't
notice that it's just the sound that is scary.
The movie ceases to be scary somewhere in the middle, and then it's just silly and lame. The biggest problem I have with it is that while it claims to be a "true story", I think that's a pretty subjective statement. Maybe the "story" is based on a story that has been told about a real-life situation, but I have little doubt in my mind that demonic possession is nonsense. The girl was psychotic, and that's that :) The movie ended up seeming a bit like a sales pitch for Christianity, which bothered me as well. All in all, a weak film. I'm surprised it got so many stars as it did.
**SPOILERS** It starts off really well and you really get the sense of
a VERDICT meets THE EXORCIST. But as the movie progresses and we get
into the courtroom, it becomes a by-the-numbers courtroom drama, so
clichéd and predictable you'll find yourself screaming at the screen.
Little tip: when you get a star witness who appears midway through the trial, and his testimony is all you need to ensure a victory for your case, your first question should be "when does he die and how?" When this guy shows up in this movie, my only thought was it would just be too predictable to have him die, so how are they going to do this? Maybe some new twist we've never seen in a courtroom movie. But alas, his death and every other aspect of the trial is so clichéd and all been done before, it's astonishing this script was greenlighted.
What's even worse is the end, when the it goes from being a courtroom movie to an SCTV episode, where the jurors start chiming in with their own ideas of punishment. It actually becomes funny.
This could have been a pretty good film, but was ruined by old, stock, courtroom baloney and I'm sure anyone in the legal profession who watched it probably cracked up.
The other thing I hated about this film was "based on a true story." Any supernatural movie or monster movie that has "based on a true story" loses any credibility. Of course, if there had been a real exorcism like this and this trial had happened, it would have been huge news. Now I understand there were events in the movie that did happen, but it's like saying I have a movie based on a guy named Joe Johnson who fought off aliens. Turns out the "true" part was there was once a guy named Joe Johnson. Enough with the "based on a true story" monster movies.
I liked the idea of this a whole lot.
Laura Linney was at the edge of her competence here, but she's close.
The idea is simple. We have the courtroom movie. Its a form that allows nesting or folding of stories in various ways. Its been extended in all sorts of ways, including Kurosawa and Christie. Why not extend it so that the story within is another movie genre?
Why not? And then flatten it into a set of questions about reality, the stories we make in reality. Its a movie where he folks in the movie look at us and wonder what makes a true story. In the film, the question is whether the priest is true about this girl being possessed, a story that has been fabricated over thousands of years. Or whether "common sense" tells you otherwise.
Outside the movie, the reflection is on the relevance of story at all. And why would we willingly choose story over "truth" anyway? We often do, even when the story is that we are not.
Unfortunately, the filmmaker once again had bigger ideas than he had skill.
But its a noble idea nonetheless.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(Some spoilers ahead) This movie is different from "The Exorcist" in
the same way "King Kong" is different from a movie that seriously
postulates that giant apes and dinosaurs exist on a remote island. A
movie that simply takes a horror scenario based on old legends and runs
with it, is distinguishable than one that argues that the horror
scenario can actually happen.
To this day I do not know if either William Blatty or William Freidkin are religious believers. I do know that they created a rattlin' good film back in 1972, one that you do not have to be a religious believer to enjoy. This movie, on the other hand, seems to have been written by a Mel Gibson type Catholic who believes that the Church is all that stands between a skeptical humanity and the unlimited resources of hell, which stand ready to very visibly put the smack down on the planet.
If this movie wanted to be taken seriously, it could address a few questions that any skeptic could compose. What, for instance, is the whole point of demonic possession? If Satan is, as the Bible describes him, a master of deceit, why would he ever want to come out in the open like that? And why on earth would he want to possess a simple, obscure farm girl? Why not take over, say, the President of the U.S.? Or the Pope? Now if I were the Prince of Darkness, that is who I would go for. Billions would be impressed. Some might believe the Pope is too saintly for that, well, so was Emily.
Two problems with courtroom procedure: first, the prosecutor shows a picture of the mutilated Emily in his opening argument. Erin should have objected. Opening statements are when the state tells the jury about the evidence - not when the evidence is actually presented. Erin's summation, too? She states "I know Fr. Moore, and he is not a bad man." She is testifying about the character of the defendant, and the state should have objected. (What she is really saying is, "You, the jury, can't convict a priest." I heavily disagree.)
Emily Rose has died. She believed to be possessed by demons and sought
out help from father Moore. After her death he is charged with criminal
negligence. Taking up Moore's case is Erin Bruner; know for winning
hard to win cases. She isn't really religious, but starts to feel an
unknown presence when she takes the case. During the court room and
through conversation with people, we are taken back to see what
happened to Emily and how it came to her death.
When making a film about exorcism, it is a hard subject to tackle. Not many movies have really succeeded with the area well. When in concept you think of adding a court room drama into the horror style nature of the subject of exorcism, it becomes quite interesting. Though when it plays out, it doesn't really make it any better. When we are in the court room, it the down point of the movie, as it detracts from the main idea, what really happened to Emily. Though in the flash backs we see what did happened, but it needed more to it. They should have focused more upon Emily and her tragedy, the fight against God and the Devil, not the fight between lawyers.
There are some good intense moments. When Emily is first attacked in her room and when Erin experiences a similar event are very well done. The demonic faces that Emily see are disturbing, and Emily's body contorts are equally disturbing, but they are kept to a minimum. They needed more of these scenes to keep the suspense up. The exorcism is done good to, it initially seemed flat as the court room, but picks up when they are in the barn, it really gets going then. But its short lived, should have been a lot more to it.
Though it doesn't reach the level of horror or drama it was wanting, its still an interesting watch. It's about time they left the topic of exorcism alone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Like just about everyone else on this site, I went to this film with my
hardcore cheezy horror flick buddy expecting another Japanese remake or
another teen-scream job filled with cheap scare tactics and bad CGI
featuring the usual creepy kid. Well, I got neither. Instead, the
"Exorcism of Emily Rose" is more of a courtroom base drama, which
tactically uses every single scary shot that are in the film in the
trailers with the attempt to bring in a target audience, which may have
disappointed some viewers.
As mentioned before "Rose", is really a courtroom drama that centers around the trial of Father Moore (Wilkinson) who is on trial for his role in the death of Emily Rose (Carpenter) defended by an agnostic lawyer, Erin Bruner, played pleasantly by Laura Linney. The death of Emily Rose is in question: was she possessed or was she suffering from severe psychosis and epilepsy? After all medical tactics and tests had been exhausted and unresolved, Father Moore is brought in to cure her of her possession which unfortunately takes a wrong turn. It's during this trial where you see both sides of the court as Emily's recollections are revisited and where the creepiness comes in.
Truthfully, I really wasn't disappointed with the fact that film was marketed incorrectly as I'm not really a big fan of horror flicks. I'm more annoyed with the fact that film, which was supposed to be based on a true story, was nothing close to what the actual story. The real case was set in Germany, involved 2 priests both which were on trial along with parents. Also, according to various information, the conference of German bishops agreed that she was NOT possessed. Quite an important piece of information since the film leaves it up the viewer to decides whether or not she was really possessed.
Not only I was not scared, since they wasted all the creepy parts in the trailers, I was completely bored. The movie starts in the courtroom and ends in the courtroom and its filled with every courtroom cliché known to man. Rude and abrasive prosecutor? Check. Charismatic and underdog defense lawyer? Check. Surprise evidence? Check. Key witness dying or disappearing? Check. Surprise verdict? Check. After awhile I though this movie was based on another John Grisham novel.
The acting was pretty good and dialog and the storyline is enough to keep you interested. The film also does a good job at reliving the events leading up to her death, shows both theories on what happened to her both with convincing tales. This is what really builds the film and holds it together. And, regardless of the tons of clichés, the film is still somewhat original with the rest of crap that's in the theater. Overall this is quality film that may lose some audiences due to the fact it isn't directed by Wes Craven and the acting is quite good. But, in the end I'd suggest Googling "Emily Rose" instead of watching the movie if you really want facts concerning her exorcism.
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