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**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")
*** 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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In an age when most "horror" films belong in the comedy section, I can
think of only a couple films in the last five years that seriously
horrified me. "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" is one of them.
THE PLOT: The movie is based on the actual story of a German girl who died while being exorcised in the late 1970s. The priest was then put on trial for neglectful homicide. Google it for details.
Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) plays an agnostic who defends the priest (Tom Wilkinson), the prosecutor (Campbell Scott) is a believer. This creates some problems: How can an unbeliever defend a believer who performs a service that apparently kills the young woman? How can a believer come against another believer who was simply trying to deliver the girl from spiritual malevolence?
The prosecutor makes the case that the woman was ill with various mental disorders and that the exorcism was just a bunch of superstitious mumbo jumbo. By contrast, Erin Bruner argues that these illnesses were the RESULT OF possession -- that the girl's possession brought on the symptoms. This makes sense in light of the scriptural evidence of Jesus Christ delivering people from evil spirits who induced insanity, muteness and deafness.
Another important argument of the defense is that a potent drug that Emily was prescribed trapped her in a mode that was resistant to the exorcism.
The fascinating story provokes many questions. We need to take an honest look at our mental health practices and institutions. Although there are some genuinely good people working in this field who care about the patients, it seems that the best we can do is drug people and make them, more or less, numbed-up living zombies or even mindless vegetables. Unfortunately this is how they're damned to live the rest of their lives, subservient and dependent on the mental health establishment (that actually needs them to stay ill in order to exist).
Such people don't need more drugs and "therapy." What they need is delivered. They need delivered from evil spiritual powers that have possessed them. They need FREED. Don't mistake me here, I'm not against mental health people or facilities because I realize they're just doing what they know to do. It's just not working. Again, the mentally ill need delivered not force-fed more drugs and essentially locked-up for the rest of their lives. That's not life, it's living death!
Of course, releasing a horde of religious wackos into our mental institutions isn't the answer. Yet, what if some believers who walked in the boldness and authority of Jesus Christ were available, people who show documented evidence of DELIVERING the mentally ill? The New Testament relays case after case of Jesus Christ exorcising demons from hundreds of people, maybe thousands. He didn't numb 'em up and sentence them to a life of living death. Rather he came to set the prisoners free from darkness, heal the sick and heal the brokenhearted! If there are people out there who walk in this same anointing of power and freedom, shouldn't we allow them to minister to our mentally ill?
Unfortunately a large percentage of the church is very weak in regards to spiritual deliverance. Except for offering eternal salvation, their gospel is powerless and next to worthless. Yet this wasn't the way of the early church. Paul, Peter and others offered total deliverance. Thankfully, there are still a remnant of these types of believers and these are the ones who can help our mentally ill, as long as the oppressed WANT freedom, healing and deliverance (some WANT to stay dependent and "cared for").
I'm only raising such moral/theological/philosophical questions because the film provokes it, so please don't be irked at me for getting all heavy and theological.
Despite the numerous courtroom scenes there's certainly enough horrifying elements in "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" to please most horror fans, just don't expect Freddy or Jason shenanigans. Like my title blurb points out, this film will literally scare the hell out of you.
Interestingly, while it's horrifying "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" is also somehow warm and faith-affirming, even sometimes beautiful.
My only criticism is a theological theory introduced late in the film. This theory is incredible wrong. I won't elaborate except to say that God would never allow the option of Emily's possession as a supposed testimony to the world of the existence of dark spiritual powers, rather His purpose is always to deliver such people, which not only testifies to the existence of the malevolent powers but, more importantly, sets the person FREE and gives glory to God.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose is the most unusual of postmodern genre
blends: a horror movie and a legal thriller (though maybe "courtroom
drama" is better). And the most surprising thing is, it works - the
surprise being that writer/director Scott Derrickson's first proper
feature manages to be incredibly good, following the awful,
straight-to-DVD Hellraiser: Inferno.
Allegedly inspired by a true story which occurred in Germany, the film, much like your average episode of CSI or Law & Order, starts with the discovery of a young woman's dead body. The woman in question is Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter), a college student who appears to have died under horrific circumstances. The family priest, Father Richard Moore (Tom Wilkinson), is subsequently accused of homicide by negligence: he believed Emily was possessed and performed an exorcism on her (with the girl's explicit permission), which, according to the prosecution, resulted in her death. While they try to prove that Emily was epileptic, and possibly psychotic as well, Father Moore's lawyer, Erin Bruner (Laura Linney), though not really a believer herself, sets out to convince the public the priest acted in good faith.
The courtroom context could have been the movie's death, and there is in fact a hint of pretentiousness in the scene where Erin enlists the help of an expert (Shoreh Aghdashloo) to provide a scientific explanation for possessions (yep, it's almost as dumb as it sounds), but it does actually provide the film with a tight sense of tension that keeps the viewer interested until the end. These scenes are inter-cut with flashbacks chronicling the various phases of Emily's possession/insanity/whatever, and that's where the film's real heart is: the tragedy of a young girl in a situation she can't control. It's hard to look at those moments and not think of The Exorcist, but they work chiefly thanks to Carpenter's genuinely affecting work (that she did most of her scenes without make-up or wires makes the whole thing even more impressive).
This isn't just her show, though: Linney is as good as she's ever been, Campbell Scott, Colm Feore and the rest of the supporting cast deliver as expected, and Wilkinson, having the rare privilege of playing a) the lead role and b) a good guy, is quietly moving as a man torn apart by his faith.
Most times, two movies stuffed into one don't work. The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a fortunate exception: the ending is a bit of a letdown, primarily because no real answer is given, but it remains a compelling study of faith vs. science.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Supposedly based on (or should that be "inspired by"?) real events, The Exorcism of Emily Rose tells the story of a priest put on trial for the murder of a girl who died while undergoing an exorcism. Despite what the ads that ran when it was in the theater would have had you believe, it is not the story of Emily as much as it is the story of Father Moore's trial. Included in the many twists in the plot is whether or not the court will accept scientific evidence to support the claim of possession by demons. It's really an interesting and, for the most part, well done film. I had no problems with the plot, the logic behind the central themes in the movie, the acting, or most anything else. I actually quite enjoyed the movie. And as a bonus, I found that much of the film succeeded in being scary. I know a lot of people find these movies about God and demons to be unbelievable, but I think if you grew up with the Church and believing in Jesus, these movies can still be effective. If it weren't for a couple of issues I had with the movie, I could have easily rated it an 8/10. Where the movie really falters is in some of the character motivation and the lighting. Movies with horror themes are usually darkly lit I understand that. But there were some scenes where I had trouble seeing what was going on. I'm beginning to think I've got a problem with my eyes, but, for example, I could barely make out what was going on in the barn during the exorcism scenes. Or take the scenes of Father Moore in prison. What real prison is so dimly lit? Most prisons I've seen will burn your retinas with the overhead fluorescents you can't escape. And the characters didn't make things any easier on me with the ridiculousness of some of their actions. Suppose you were like Emily and thought you might be possessed by demons. Do you really think you would walk down a dark hall without once trying to turn on the lights? Or what if you were the attorney, Erin Bruner, and you had started experiencing freaky things at 3:00 am every morning. Would you really stumble through your house looking for things that go bump in the night without once turning on a light? The answer to both questions no you wouldn't. Please, somebody turn on a light! It was so frustrating. I was ready to pull out what little hair I have left.
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