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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.
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.
The nineteen years old Catholic college girl Emily Rose (Jennifer
Carpenter) dies a couple of days after being submitted to an exorcism
carried out by her parish priest, Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson). Emily
believed she was possessed by six demons, and although authorized by
Emily and he parents, Father Moore is accused of negligent homicide,
since he had suggested Emily to interrupt the use of medications for
epilepsy. In order to avoid a scandal, the Archdiocese hires the
successful, ambitious and agnostic lawyer Erin Bruner (Laura Linney),
and the prosecution assigns the religious prosecutor Ethan Thomas
(Campbell Scott). Along the days, there is a battle between science and
religion in the court.
"The Exorcism of Emily Rose" was a great surprise for me. Based on a true event, I was expecting a horror movie like "The Exorcist", but actually it is a great story of trial, with the confrontation of science and religion, but with an agnostic lawyer defending and a religious one accusing a priest. The story is leaded by Erin, and her contact with the unknown and her final speech are some of the great moments of this film. Among the scariest parts are Dr. Cartwright (Duncan Fraser) saying that he started praying again since he had witnessed the exorcism, and when the priest explains that 3 AM is the demoniac witching hour. The direction of Scott Derrickson is excellent, using special effects only when necessary, and very well supported by a magnificent cast, leaded by the wonderful Laura Linney and the great Tom Wilkinson, followed by the unknown Jennifer Carpenter, who is great in the role of Emily Rose, Campbell Scott and Colm Feore. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "O Exorcismo de Emily Rose" ("The Exorcism of Emily Rose")
I love movies like The Exorcist, and Ghostbusters, which are admitted
works of fiction, but this one attempts to claim it's based on a true
story, and sounds more like religious propaganda against skepticism and
science that conflicts with people's personal feelings and world-views.
Remember when people thought "The Amittyville Horror" was a true story? Turns out the family that lived in that house made up all the ghost stories to get attention and money from the movie rights. They confessed to it. Studios continued giving the public what they wanted with more sequels and remakes of this confessed lie, all for the sake of profit.
This film is based on something that supposedly happened in Germany in the 1970's, and now it's a film put in theaters, charging $10 a person, where it takes place in America in present day, playing to a population of 300,000,000 people who 85% believe in God, and 75% are Christian. That's a lot of money to be made. Just ask Mel Gibson, and the creators of Narnia.
The only message of this film is, skeptics are just crabby and not realistic, and anything that's weird or coincidental in life has a purpose, and anything new to science is spiritually related. Science and reason are the bad guys, while irrational hopes for the fantastic to be true are more than hopes. It's a feel-good movie for people who fear or dislike skepticism. There is an attempt to make it sound like a balanced ending when she talks about "possibilities", but that's inconsistent with the rest of the film which says "demons are real, demons are real, demons are real!".
Most people would rather believe the film's message because most paying customers don't consider skepticism an option, but yet want to make sense of this "spiritual world", without even considering once that the REASON the spirit world doesn't make any sense because it doesn't exist in the first place, so a movie like this will get high marks, even if it were shot with a home camcorder, and acted with the local neighbors.
I call a mistrial.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As I mentioned in my review of the 2002 film "The Mothman Prophecies,"
there are any number of similarities between that film and 2005's "The
Exorcism of Emily Rose." To begin with, both pictures star Laura
Linney, one of Hollywood's preeminent mainstream actresses of the early
21st century, here in a brace of unusual horror outings. Both are
products of the Screen Gems/Lakeshore Entertainment production company,
and both deal with supernatural events that are purportedly based on
real-life incidents. Both films go far in convincing the viewer of the
possibility of the bizarre happenings portrayed as being genuine and
real (unknowable, highly advanced life forms watching over mankind in
the first; demonic possession in the latter), and both, strangely,
clock in at precisely 119 minutes. But whereas "Mothman" retains its
real-life setting and historical basis--the collapse of the Silver
Bridge in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, on 12/15/67, but updating it
to modern times--the latter film changes its based-on-fact setting
entirely. The film is drawn from the case of Anneliese Michel, a
23-year-old German woman who underwent a series of exorcisms--67, to be
exact!--from 1975-'76. Michel was convinced that her seizures and
depression were a result of demonic possession, and ultimately died, as
does Emily in the film, of malnutrition. But the film transfers its
action to the American heartland, condenses the 67 sessions to one
terrifying one, and changes the victim's age to 19. As in real life,
the priest who officiated over the exorcism of Emily Rose is put on
trial for negligent homicide. And defending Father Richard Moore (Tom
Wilkinson) in court is a rising hotshot lawyer named Erin Bruner (our
Laura Linney), a confirmed agnostic who enters the case with nothing
but incredulity as regards Satanism, demons, possessions and the lot.
But as the film's memorable final moments show, the facts of the case
go far in shaking her long-held beliefs...and those, most likely, of
I find it remarkable how many reviewers here seem to be complaining about how "Emily Rose" cleaves into two fairly discrete kinds of film: a horror film and the central courtroom drama. Even the esteemed "Maltin Movie Guide" remarks that the film is a "peculiar mix of horror movie and courtroom melodrama (that is) unconvincing on all levels." Well, all I can say is, I must be more easily entertained or easily convinced than others, because I thought the picture featured some highly fascinating, well-staged, brilliantly scripted and perfectly acted courtroom sequences, as well as truly terrifying scenes of shocking horror. Of course, the lion's share of the credit for the double-pronged success of the film must go to director Scott Derrickson, the two actors already named--Linney really is remarkably good; truly, one of the best we've got right now--as well as to Campbell Scott, as the feisty prosecuting attorney, and Jennifer Carpenter as poor Emily. How convincing Carpenter is as the possessed farm girl; much more so than Linda Blair's Regan MacNeil in 1973's "The Exorcist," and without the assistance of foul language and regurgitated pea soup! Another factor that gives "Emily Rose" an edge over the 1973 film: Whereas Regan was possessed by only one entity, Emily is possessed by Lucifer himself...in addition to five other demons! And, as we are led to believe, the epilepsy medication that she has wrongfully been given makes it virtually impossible for any exorcism to be successful on her...a horrifying situation of a sextuple nature.
But over and above the ghastly exorcism sequence and the many trials that Emily undergoes, what might chill the spines of many viewers the most might be this notion of waking up at precisely 3 a.m. It was at that moment when Emily is first attacked by her demons, and when Bruner and Father Moore awaken each night to supernatural visitants. As Moore explains in the film, 3 a.m. is the "demonic witching hour...a way for demons to mock the Holy Trinity...an inversion of 3 p.m., the miracle hour, which is traditionally accepted as the hour of Christ's death." I defy any viewer to watch this film and then not be concerned about waking up at 3:00 A.M. on the dot! I see a lot of horror films, as my reviews here will testify, and never have the slightest nightmares or qualms after watching any of them. "Emily Rose," however, cost me a good night's sleep, and when I recently awoke at 3:01 A.M., it was with the distinct feeling of having narrowly averted...something. Such is the power and effectiveness of this truly unsettling film. "It scared the hell out of me," Father Moore says at one point during the picture, a reaction that I have a feeling will be shared by many viewers. Yes, "Emily Rose," unlike most, gave me a sleepless night, and I can think of no higher praise for a horror film!
Loosely based on the story of Anneliese Michel, Scott Derrickson's
Box-Office Blockbuster 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose' is A Compelling
Watch! Scary, Horrifying & Nail-Biting, this courtroom-drama/horror
flick, is a knock-out!
'The Exorcism of Emily Rose' Synopsis: A lawyer takes on a negligent homicide case involving a priest who performed an exorcism on a young girl.
'The Exorcism of Emily Rose' is extremely depressing & yet gripping. It's masterfully written by Paul Harris Boardman & Derrickson. The Screenplay is scary, horrifying, depressing & yet gripping. Every Sequence unfolds very well. The Pacing is perfect & The Execution is truly top-notch. Derrickson's Direction is fantastic. Cinematography, Editing & Art Design, are fine.
Performance-Wise: Jennifer Carpenter as Emily Rose, is unforgettable. This is her finest performance to date. Laura Linney is riveting, in a powerful role. The Marvelous Tom Wilkinson, gives a yet another winning performance. Campbell Scott is first-rate. Colm Feore is adequate. Mary Beth Hurt lends support.
On the whole, 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose' is a must see.
Comparisons with last year's The Last Exorcism are inevitable, both
films have simple young women becoming possessed by demonic spirits and
the ensuing rituals to cleanse them involve much histrionics, menacing
and unexpected dialogue in foreign languages and much physical
contortion. But where 'Last' was a fake doco flick with a slow build up
and a frustratingly tacked on ending, Emily Rose remains true to tone,
and is a somewhat odd 50/50 mix of courtroom drama and exorcism with
the key scenes all told in flashback.
When we meet Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson) he is already under arrest for Emily's untimely death. So we know this doesn't end happily for her
Hotshot lawyer Erin Bruner is assigned with Moore's defence, and she attacks the case with the gusto of one who sees it as an opportunity for advancement. She is told by the 'high ups' in her firm that their client the Church wants this case to pass with minimal fuss and press the tacit agreement being that a case involving being possessed by the Devil or such and the inflicted being killed while in church hands being somewhat of a negative.
The lead prosecutor is Ethan Thomas (Campbell Scott), who uses his own devout religious beliefs to cast doubt upon the authenticity of the defense's claims. His view is that the accused is hiding his negligence behind religion and he should get what's coming to him.
The first half shows the two sides painstakingly building their cases through the usual Law and Order stuff including questioning witnesses, most notably Emily's boyfriend and Father Moore himself.
Flashbacks throughout show us that the onset of the condition started at her University and was initially diagnosed as epilepsy. With the side effects seemingly that stuff moves around her room unprompted and everyone appearing to her as if she was under the influence of the Scarecrow from Batman Begins Emily is understandably unnerved.
After some unplanned calisthenics and the immediate knowledge of foreign languages Emily heads home and the local Father Moore takes over, himself a rookie at this game having never performed anything resembling an exorcism. While on the case both Erin and Father Moore continue to be 'contacted' or 'influenced' by the demons. Why they would be worried about the outcome of the case I cannot guess I would have thought that where Hell and Satan is concerned any publicity is god publicity.
Anyway the latter stages bring out the ever-effective hissing tape recording of events, and a sequence showing the culmination of the exorcism ceremony in all it's glory, with a storm, pestilence and the intensity turned up to 11. Did I mention it occurred on Halloween for good measure? Well of course it does.
I liked The Exorcism of Emily Rose and think it slightly better than The Last Exorcism despite the slight compromise necessary due to the courtroom scenes. The ritual scenes were probably less realistic (if that is even a claim) but more effective than the events in the latter film, despite or perhaps because of the absence of gore and shlock. Wilkinson, Scott and Linney do their best to add credibility to events which could easily veer into ludicrous territory given the subject matter, but as tends to be the case it is the performance of the possessed that you look at most, and while I have never heard of Jennifer Carpenter since this film she is up to the job here.
Carpenter has an amazingly expressive face and large wide eyes that effectively purvey the inner struggle, pain and stress that you would undergo if a pack of naughty spirits had infiltrated your person. She only gets a few scenes in which to ply her trade but in those brief sequences she provides the two or three more memorable images in the film.
Emily Rose might not stay with you for long after you watch it, but for the 120 minutes of its duration you won't find your mind wandering elsewhere too much. With these sort of flicks that's all you can ask really.
Final Rating 7.5 / 10. Part courtroom drama, part horror film. The two disparate genres don't often mix but somehow they make it work here.
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