The Exorcism of Emily Rose

10/09/2015 21:09

 Film: The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Year: 2005

Director: Scott Derrickson

Writer: Paul Harris Broadman and Scott Derrickson

Starring: Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson and Shohreh Aghdashloo



This film I saw in the theaters. I don’t recall who I went to with or if I went by myself, but I saw it on the big screen and really liked it. It is one that I come back to periodically and just enjoy it in general. Part of it is that the subject matter gets under my skin. It has been a couple years since my last viewing though and it is thanks to the Podcast Under the Stairs Summer Challenge Series for the 2000s. The synopsis here is a lawyer takes on a negligent homicide case involving a priest who performed an exorcism on a young girl.

We start his at a small farmhouse. The medical examiner has arrived and we learned that someone there has passed away. He goes upstairs and a priest by the name of Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson) leaves a room. The examiner goes in. He comes down to relay that he can’t be for sure that she died of natural causes. Father Moore is then arrested.

We then get to see the district attorney and his stay decide who will lead the prosecution’s case. It will be a religious man be their lead prosecutor, even though he is Methodist, not Catholic, but he brings exactly what they need and the care to handle this matter. On the other side, since Father Moore is Catholic, the archdiocese works with a strong law firm. Karl Gunderson (Colm Feore) approaches Erin Bruner (Laura Linney). She is offered the job, since she just got a man who all the evidence pointed to as guilty off with an acquittal. She isn’t happy, but she’s using her place and leverage to become a partner if she succeeds with this case. The only thing is the archdiocese doesn’t want is for Father Moore to take the stand and embarrass them further.

From here the trial begins. What this film does is show us the courtroom and we see what the attorneys and what the witnesses on the stand say. Which this means that we’re seeing the events that lead up to Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) as he goes off to college and how she seeks into this condition.

The prosecution is pushing that Father Moore was criminally negligent and that was why Emily died. Taking this even farther, their claim is that by taking her off her medication as well as not seeking medical attention to help keep her alive. Erin is trying to prove that she was possessed, or at least she thought she was possessed. There was no medical explanation to save her because it was all in her faith and in her mind.

While all this is going on, an evil spirit is trying to frighten off Erin and one of her witnesses. It also continues to come after Father Moore as it did when he was helping Emily. This really does complicate trying to help Father Moore who had her best intentions in mind, but she ended up dying. It will all come down to the defense and prosecution to convince this jury of his peers what to do.

This film is both sad and frightening to me. It also has an interesting way of presenting this story to us. The movie sets the tone earlier with the medical examiner doing his job and then having Father Moore arrested. I say it this way, because for the most part, we look at priests as good people who are there to help. Seeing what Ethan Thomas says about him in the courtroom really is an interesting idea where. What works in the movie’s favor though is that we just know that Emily passed away and we’re getting the evidence presented chronologically through the court proceedings.

Now if you follow my reviews, you know that I’m not religious. I am an atheist, but I like to keep an open mind and it doesn’t bother me that some people do follow it. For me, I just personally don’t need it. Erin is like me in that she is agnostic. She has a crisis of faith as things go on though. I really enjoy the idea that is given the case because of the guy who was probably guilty and she could convince the jury to acquit. Father Moore is a much more likeable guy though so there is that working in his favor. Erin though faces supernatural elements that make her question things.

On the other side of this we have Ethan. He is a religious man and he was selected that it makes him a bit more likeable when he goes on the attack of Father Moore. There are numerous times that this is brought up. He is dominating this case for most of the movie as well. What I really like though is when Erin finds some chinks in the armor and discovers some witnesses that might really help her case, we see the uglier side of him. He really doesn’t seem as good of person when he starts think he could lose. This is really something that I enjoyed.

I want to move this over to the idea of the supernatural vs. the logical. We are in a court of law where facts are really what should be presented. There is also an element of telling someone’s version of the story and the way they perceived it or what they tried to do. Erin is fighting an interesting battle here to prove that Emily was possessed, but what I like though is that they presenting it as ‘she thinks she is possessed’ and her faith is causing a ‘psychosomatic’ type reaction. On top of this, there are forces that are trying to stop Erin, Father Moore and others from what they’re doing.

From here I want to take this to the acting. Linney does a good here as this shrewd lawyer. She’s good at what she does, there she does some things that are a grey area with the law. It is funny when Judge Brewster (Mary Beth Hunt) notices it and calls her out on it. Wilkinson is good as well. He’s an actor that I’m not sure I’ve seen a bad performance and I’m confident when I see him in a role that it will be good. Scott is solid as well. The person who steals the show is Carpenter though. From what I remember, she did all the body contortions herself and that’s amazing. She also shows true fear that makes me feel bad and I like her take on being possessed. There are some good actors in support as well with Feore, Joshua Close, Kenneth Welsh, JR Bourne and Hurt as well.

Really the last thing to go over would be the effects of the movie. I’m glad that they really don’t use a lot of them. I’ve already said that I commend Carpenter for what she did with her body as that was practical. They do an effect with her eyes that creeped me out. There was some CGI with faces of characters to turn into demons. I liked this as it is a hallucination. This also made me uncomfortable. The cinematography was well done and the only shot that wasn’t really traditional is with Father Moore fleeing something that is haunting him. Aside from that, what they do with the soundtrack for Emily’s voice during the exorcism made me feel uncomfortable.

Now with that said, this movie is one that I’ve always liked and it really still holds up for me. The acting really helps drive this movie and there isn’t a bad performance. I like that present this information through a court room drama and that when the stories are being given, we go back into the past to see it play out. I’m not really religious, but those elements are good. I am a fan of the corrupt that can come from the innocent for sure. The soundtrack works with the sound design of during the exorcism really working as did the effects and the cinematography. I would rate this as a really good movie, just bordering on being great for me. This I would recommend to horror and non-horror fans alike.


My Rating: 8.5 out of 10