Exorcism of Emily Rose, The
Starring:
Tom Wilkinson, Laura Linney, Jennifer Carpenter
Directed By:
Scott Derrickson
Grade
B+

Dear Hollywood,
Stop promotion supernatural dramas as horror films. No, seriously, you aren't fooling anyone. They aren't scary. Well, not after you show ALL THE GOOD SCENES on the television ads. After that, all we're left are all the dramatic parts.

Thanks,
The Movie-Going Public.

If you can't tell by the above, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is not a horror film. It's a supernatural drama loosely based on the events of a woman who was believed to be possessed and the ensuing failed exorcism ended with her eventual death. In Emily Rose, the movie begins with the death of Emily after succumbing to the wear and tear of her possession. Not much later, the parish priest, Father Moore (Wilkinson), is arrested and charged for her death. This brings in hot shot agnostic lawyer Erin Bruner (Linney), who must defend Moore while balancing the desire of the church not to have exorcisms brought out into public light and the request of Moore to have Emily's story be told.

As the story's focus is more on the case and the court proceedings, there's a more scaled-down, realistic take on the way the movie is directed. Even in the sequences where the possession is taking place, little additional effects are used. This isn't The Exorcist, where human heads spin around and spew gallons of bile. This, by intention, is an attempt to put a more realistic take on the phenomenon. In fact, there apparently was some effort to try and make this film as "ambiguous" as possible, so that the viewer would have to decide whether this was a true possession or just a girl afflicted with medical problems. Sadly, though, there are a few too many instances where this middle-ground leans too hard to the possession side of the story, deflating the intention to be an impartial storyteller.

As the story goes, we're given bits and pieces of Emily's decline from different people in her life, namely her boyfriend, family, Moore and the doctor present at the exorcism. There are a few scenes where we're given more of the story than any of the witnesses were probably privy to, but this is all in an attempt to show the depth of her terror. While the actual climax of the film is intended to be the completion of the court case, the true climax proves to be the failed exorcism in the Rose family's barn - a brutally intense series of events ending in Emily and the priest facing off.

When it comes to performances, most of the cast is pretty stable. Linney is strong, especially when faced against issues that test her personal set of beliefs. Jennifer Carpenter as Emily is fantastic, especially considering the role required so much physical work out of her. Wilkinson is good, but seems pretty subdued, as if he is broken by the role. Some of the other performances can fluctuate, not because of the performers, but because of some of the script can be hokey. There were times I actually rolled my eyes at the lines the actors were forced to deliver.

All in all, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is damn good at providing some nice drama with a supernatural bent. Don't expect to be scared, or even mildly creeped out. There are some moments where the movie does grasp you, but on the whole, it's a pretty entertaining drama.

- - Kinderfeld

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