Horror /  Drama

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Distributed By: Sony Pictures

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            When I first heard about this movie, I was skeptical.  Watch a movie about a failed exorcism that resulted in a young woman’s death?  I think not.  However, when faced with the choice of renting a movie that I had already seen, and trying something new, I decided to try something new.  So, my friends and I dimmed down the lights, got comfortable, and prepared to view this movie with open minds. 

            Emily Rose is from an extremely devout Catholic family.  She was the model student, earning herself a scholarship to a college away from her family and her parish.  While away at college, something happened and Emily Rose changed.  She began to experience visions, believing that she saw demonic presences among her.  She began to have seizures that left her contorted in the shape of a pretzel.

            The extreme violence of these episodes and the fact that prescribed medicines don’t even begin to touch the symptoms, lead Emily Rose to return to her home town.  Emily Rose seeks out her parish priest to exorcise what she believes to be a demonic presence from her ravaged body.  Father Moore’s efforts fail and she dies a short time later.  The priest is brought up on charges of negligent homicide.  A firm representing the Archdiocese selects a hard-core, no-nonsense lawyer who recently won an impossible murder trial to represent the Father Moore at trial.

            The very beginning of the movie is spooky enough to raise the hackles on the back of your neck.  It gives you a definite feeling that something ominous is looming about.  Whatever you believe about the scriptures, ghosts, possessions, demons, etc., this movie will have you wondering.  As you watch the story unfold and hear the testimony from both sides of this case, your beliefs are called into question.  Is Emily Rose suffering from psychotic epileptic episodes, or is she truly demonically possessed?  Is the lawyer someone who was once willing to sell herself to the devil who has since become redeemed? 

            Having had some experience with the psychiatric community, I can accept the reasoning of the prosecution’s side which asserts that Emily Rose suffered from psychiatric problems.  However, my beliefs in Catholicism allow me to sympathize with the beliefs of the Rose family who truly believed that their daughter was possessed.  What made this story just a tad bit less believable were the strange incidents that occurred throughout the film at 3am – the so-called witching hour.  Although the scenes lent to the scariness of the movie, they also gave the movie more of a thriller feel rather than one of authenticity.  This bothered me, since the movie is supposed to be based on the novel, The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel by Dr. Felicitas Goodman, which discusses the life of a young German woman who suffered the same afflictions in the ‘70s.

            Regardless of your beliefs, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a rather entertaining film.  Jennifer Carpenter’s performance as Emily Rose rivals that of Linda Blair’s Regan in The Exorcist.  Laura Linney’s performance as Erin Bruner, a lawyer torn by indecision and lack of faith, was wholly believable.  The darkness of the film lent to its “creepiness” and the special effects were very well-done.  The flashbacks in the film were cleverly placed and never overdone.  All-in-all, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a movie that even a skeptic can enjoy.


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