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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Review: The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Director: Scott Derrickson
Screenplay: Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson
Year: 2005

"The Exorcism of Emily Rose" is based on the real case in which a teenager died during an exorcism and the priest in charge of the ritual was charged with negligence. Most of the movie takes place during the trial of this priest when there is a fight to convince the jury that the supernatural event took place, while the counterpart tries to show that it wasn't a supernatural event but a medical condition that was not properly attended.

Something that impressed me almost instantly is how well this movie holds up. At the time this review is being written, it has 14 years since it was released, and it doesn't seem like it. Something that helps it is that it doesn’t use much CGI and practical effects are well done. Come on, I have seen movies released this year that don't look as good as this one.

Although the exorcism is the pivot on which the whole movie spins around, the main story is based after the event. As we learn from since the beginning, Emily Rose dies in the process in which a priest was trying to perform an exorcism and he is accused of her death. While to his lawyer it is more important to win the case, for him telling Emily's story is what is important. This takes place through testimonies during the trial and we can see then through retrospectives.

In these images, we get to know Emily and the events she lives after being possessed.  While in the courtroom Laura Linney (“The Big C”), Campbell Scott (“The Amazing Spider-Man 2”), and Tom Wilkinson (“Michael Clayton”) are the stars in their interpretations of lawyers Eron and Ethan and father Moore, respectively, in the retrospectives it is Jennifer Carpenter (“Dexter”) who owns the screen with her unnerving interpretation of Emily. This cast makes an excellent job on their interpretations, captivating the viewer in every scene, and it is only during the exorcism scene where O found the acting to be a little exaggerated for my taste. For the rest, they work well, particularly Carpenter, who manages to be frightening while being controlled by what possesses her and by pitiful when she is herself scared of what she is living.

This movie manages itself in part as a juridical drama and as a horror movie. While the horror is not always present, the suspense is always maintained by keeping the topic relevant talking about it constantly through the battle of the lawyers in court. The horror moments, even when they are not frequent, are very effective. Jump scares meet their objective, the images are frightening and the situation in general disturbing. It also helps that these horrific moments are developed beforehand through the conversations in the courtroom or when the priest talks to his lawyer, which predisposes some tension in the viewer before presenting the disturbing moments.

“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is an excellent horror movie and, to me, one of the best in the topic of possessions, although definitely not one of the most frightening, and falls light-years, like any other, behind "The Exorcist". Besides some plot holes where some of the questions that arise when the story is being developed are left unanswered, for example, the reason for the possession, the movie is well crafted and ends in an entertaining and disturbing experience.

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