Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Film Review: The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Review)
United States/2005
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...the courtroom scenes are genuinely interesting and often tense, and Emily's story is mesmerizing."

Lawyer Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) is called in to defend a priest, Father Richard Moore (Tom Wilkinson), who has been charged with negligent homicide for his involvement in the death of Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter). During the trial, the horrors Emily Rose experienced are vividly told...

The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a courtroom drama and horror film. The courtroom drama takes center stage, with Emily Rose's horrific story bring told through flashbacks as witnesses testify. The trial presents a medical and spiritual analyses of the issue, and I enjoy this approach; many possibilities are discussed, and they're genuinely interesting. The flashbacks show the degradation of Emily Rose as she gets worse and worse; from chilling hallucinations to eating insects, her experience is terrifying, albeit somewhat repetitive. There is a flashback for an intense exorcism - not as memorable or chilling as The Exorcist, but very well done, especially for a PG-13 film. The trial proceeds as one would expect, and the film ends on an unfortunately generic "Hollywood" ending; the real case has significant differences, but this is a film, so I digress.

My main complaint is defense attorney Erin Bruner and most of her subplot. The concept of "I'm being haunted too!" makes the film more biased than expected, especially considering the courtroom scenes; with this subplot, the possibility of Emily Rose being mentally ill is discarded from the beginning as Erin is also haunted by similar forces; therefore, instead of contemplating, or at least playing with the ideas, of whether or not Emily is sick, you're told from the beginning that she's not. Although it makes for a few great scares, it ultimately hurts the films authenticity and believability. (that's not to say I don't believe in possession, but that's another discussion.) Aside from these issues, Erin also suffers from an incredibly cliché and predictable character arc.

Laura Linney is the lead in the film and she plays her character well; she doesn't really have the charisma for a role like this, but she is believable. Jennifer Carpenter is great, despite her limited dialogue; aside from some overacting, she has great facial expressions and emits the right emotion and the right moments. The music is great and creates a great atmosphere for thr film. The film is shot beautifully, especially the outdoor scenes.

Overall, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a great courtroom drama and a good possession horror film. Erin's subplot is mostly useless and inflates the runtime, but the courtroom scenes are genuinely interesting and often tense, and Emily's story is mesmerizing. I recommend a purchase for fans of the genre - horror and drama - a rental otherwise.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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