Tom Wilkinson, Laura Linney, Jennifer Carpenter
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.
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.