Thursday, October 29, 2015

Movie Review: "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" (2005)

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Movie"The Exorcism of Emily Rose"
Director: Scott Derrickson
Year: 2005
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes

A priest named Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson) is put on trial for criminal negligence when a girl named Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter), who he believed to be demon possessed, dies while under his care. 

"Based on a true story" is favorite phrase of horror film directors as we saw earlier this Halloween marathon with "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre." Typically it is only in the loosest sense of the phrase, and this is, of course, the case with "The Exorcism of Emily Rose." It is based on a court case that took place in Germany in the 1970's where a pair of priests were put on trial for manslaughter and criminal negligence when a young woman named Anneliese Michel died in their care. If you are interested in the audio of her actual exorcism tapes, they are available on YouTube and are quite scary. Hell, maybe you should play them at your next Halloween party as mood music. This is the first of three films to be based on this case, but is the only one to be theatrically released in the US, and by far has the highest production values. "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" is more of a legal drama than a true horror as the vast majority of this movie takes place in the courtroom. The horrorific moments come from flashbacks that display what is being testified. It often goes from showing Emily's supernatural possession to briefly showing the more scientific explanations brought up in court. Of course, the visuals of these demon possession scenes are very cool and often unnerving as Emily's body twists and contorts into odd positions with weird stretching noises as she babbles in different languages and screams at the top of her/its lungs. Though these visuals are great and eerie to look at, they aren't really anything we haven't seen in other possession films. Emily Rose is played by Jennifer Carpenter and she does a good job screaming a gnashing about while being possessed. Unfortunately, after these cool possession scenes, we are ripped back into an almost dull drudgery of an overly dramatic and unrealistic court room drama. Though we like most of the actors in this movie, they can't really save its pacing issues as these court sequences drag the film to a crawl. Laura Linney plays Agnostic defense attorney Erin Bruner, who must convince the jury that Father Moore, played by Tom Wilkinson, acted properly by choosing a religious treatment over a scientifically-based medical treatment. Conversely, religiously devout prosecuting attorney Ethan Thomas, played by Campbell Scott, must convince the jury that Father Moore was negligent in leaving Emily's well being in the hands of God by encouraging her to stop taking her doctor-prescribed medication. Despite its best efforts to scare the hell out of us, and though these possession scenes are a lot better than we remember them being, there is still a lot of cliché grandstanding where a lawyer will ask a question that is followed by an objection and an immediate response of 'no further questions.' Like we said, these scenes seem to slow the pace down tremendously and don't add to the overall enjoyment of the movie, though a couple of portions of the court case involving tape recorded playbacks of Emily's possession do make for some entertaining moments. Overall, though not a bad movie, there isn't quite enough demon possession craziness to counteract the dull courtroom antics, and we found ourselves wanting a little bit more out of "The Exorcism of Emily Rose."

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 45%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
Two years ago, we were watching: "Black Sunday"

One year ago, we were watching: "Feast"

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