The Exorcism of Emily Rose
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Scott Derrickson
scr Paul Harris Boardman, Scott Derrickson
with Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Campbell Scott, Jennifer Carpenter, Joshua Close, Mary Beth Hurt, Colm Feore, Shohreh Aghdashloo, JR Bourne, Henry Czerny, Andrew Wheeler, Marilyn Norry
release US 9.Sep.05, UK 24.Nov.05
05/US Lakeshore 1h57

Trial by fire: Linney and Wilkinson

linney wilkinson scott

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The Exorcism of Emily Rose There's a clear attempt here to make an intelligent, realistic thriller about demonic possession, and the filmmakers do examine their story without resorting to the standard horror movie structure. On the other hand, they're not confident enough to avoid cheap cliches of the genre.

This is essentially a courtroom drama, as fast-rising lawyer Erin Bruner (Linney) takes on the defence of Father Moore (Wilkinson), a priest accused of allowing Emily Rose (Carpenter) to die after a very messy exorcism. The prosecutor (Black) is bent on proving medical negligence, and as a series of witnesses and experts take the stands, the ("inspired by a") true story unfurls of a young woman tormented by demons. Or maybe she was actually psycho-epileptic.

Director-cowriter Derrickson gives the film a slick sheen that cleverly obscures his slightly simplistic directing style. Underneath the smooth cinematography and score, there's a gritty little indie trying to get out. But Derrickson beats that more thoughtful tone into submission with a constant barrage of deafening noises and creepy lighting effects, plus images that are seriously disturbing as Emily's body is thrown and twisted by her internal struggle.

Performances are strong--especially Linney as the sceptic drawn into some sort of belief through her encounter with something she can't understand. Wilkinson is fine and understated as the knowing, helpful, decidedly not-mad priest. And Black adds a nice counterpoint as a believer forced to take the opposite side in the fight. Carpenter isn't required to do much more than grimace and scream, but she does that extremely effectively, especially when she finally tips over into Linda Blair territory.

The balance between cerebral legal drama and gut-churning freak-out is nicely maintained, even if it gets somewhat cheesy now and then. We are drawn into the story by the way it's so thoroughly grounded in real life, which allows us to open up to the possibility that maybe this actually happened. And the grisly Exorcist-style scenes are truly disturbing. It's rare to find a horror film that can actually get us thinking about the world around us.

cert 15 themes, violence 14.Sep.05

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Exorcism of Emily Rose mimi, salisbury, md: 5/5 "i enjoyed this movie. it was very good and i was glued to the screen. i also read online about the true story which said the parents as well as the priest were sentenced to six months in jail." (30.Dec.05)
2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall