We're all dogged by our own little demons that cast doubt, shake our faith in ourselves and pull apart our world. However unlike the character of Emily Rose in this thought provoking drama none of our demons are named Lucifer. "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" tackles the issue of faith, how science has displaced our belief system rationalizing everything around us and pulled us out of the psychological barbaric dark ages. The film dares to ask, what if our rational side is wrong? What if there are supernatural forces beyond our comprehension which drive the world around us every day? A compelling tale that mixes fact (the film is based on the true story of Anneliese Michel documented by Dr. Felicitas Goodman in the book "The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel") with the format of a suspense thriller, court room drama and delves into the place of faith and reason in our society. I've seen many people disappointed by the fact that this isn't "The Exorcist". This is a suspense drama NOT a horror film like "The Exorcist". The exorcism itself isn't the focus of this movie but, instead, a sidebar. This is really about the after effects of what happens to Father Moore and Erin.
Laura Linney plays defense attorney Erin Bruner an agnostic gun for hire that recently won a highly publicized murder trial. When the head of her firm (Colm Feore) asks her to take on a case for the Catholic Church involving a priest Father Moore (Tom Wilinson) accused of negligent homicide of Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) she finds her disbelief melting as she's drawn further and further into the case. It seems that Emily, her family and Father Moore believe that she was possessed by the Devil. The prosecutor Ethan Thomas (Campbell Scott) is a man of strong religious beliefs who finds himself convinced that the girl was an undiagnosed epileptic who died because she was denied nutrition, medical help and the medication to control her seizures. This collision of church and state creates more than sparks as Erin discovers disturbing evidence that Father Moore may be right. She's further disturbed when strange things begin to occur to her just as they did to Emily and to Father Moore after the death of Emily. A warning though to fans expecting gore galore--this isn't your typical horror film like "The Devil's Rejects" or "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". Instead, it's more of a suspense thriller using elements of the horror genre.
A thought provoking film filled with intelligent performances, some genuinely scary sequences and many unanswered questions, "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" may come across as a bit too pat at its conclusion but the ride itself makes the film worth it. This unrated version runs about 3 minutes longer than the theatrical version.
"Exorcism" doesn't have the heavenly glow of the many brightly colored epics and comic book films we've seen this year and that works to the film's advantage. Filled with moody cinematography, striking images and plenty of mystic fog the transfer looks very good. There are some minor issues with compression particularly during one sequence involving heavy fog but, on the whole, the film captures the stark and scary look of its theatrical debut. The 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround soundtrack becomes genuinely spooky during many of the scenes involving Emily and Father Moore but the more tense court room scenes come across as much more passive involving only the ambience of the court. That stark contrast between these two worlds and experiences make the scenes involving Emily's "breakdown" and exorcism all the more riveting.
We get a featurette that examines the history of the film and how the real event inspired the filmmakers to tackle such a daunting project with such an unusually intelligent approach. There's also a featurette that focuses on the visual approach for the film this is interesting as the director is, essentially, telling two different stories from two different points of view. As I mentioned before very few films have balanced the thriller aspects with those looking at the role of faith in our society and "Exorcism", like "The Exorcist", manages to transcend the limitations of the genre. We also get a single deleted scene that, although important from a character development point of view, clearly would have slowed the narrative down and was wisely extracted.
The commentary by director/co-writer Scott Derrickson focuses on many aspects of the production from the elements they borrowed from the real case to those of performance and integrating visual effects into the film in a believable fashion. The latter was missing from both "Dominion" and "The Exorcist: The Beginning" and, hence, undermined both those films from becoming little more than a footnote in the suspense/thriller/horror genre. In many respects, Derrickson's film acts almost as a "sequel" to "The Exorcist" (as that film was also based on a real life exorcism they share an incident that occurred as the basis of their projects). Derrickson's comments are intelligent and thoughtful about the project and the challenges he and his cast faced in making the story both compelling and believable.
The unrated version (which is the version I saw)doesn't appear to me to feature any more gore than the theatrical version. My guess is that it features scenes that run just a tad bit longer but weren't included in the theatrical version. While the film sputters a bit by the time of the conclusion, the two hour journey was still more than worthwhile. A warning though to fans expecting gore galore--this isn't your typical horror film like "The Devil's Rejects" or "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". The film manages to combine elements of "The Exorcist" and shows like "Law & Order" into a compelling mix all its own. Drawn into the darkness that consumes Emily both Father Moore and Erin are changed forever by their experience.
on April 2, 2006
This is a great film. If you are looking for mindless gore and obvious scares, look elsewhere. The horror in this movie is something requires a bit of thought, it doesn't literally jump out at you.
I have read quite a few reviews from people complaining that the film doesn't spoon feed you the truth. Hello? That is the entire point. No one knows the truth except perhaps the people who were there and maybe they were misinterpeting the events.
If you need everything spelled out for you, and a clean ending, this is not your movie but happily there are literally thousands of movies out there that not only do not require any thought, or a double digit IQ, but actually hope you don't think about it. This is not one of those movies.
It is very well acted, well directed and paced nicely. What you get out of it depends on how much you think about what is happening and how much you can challenge those thoughts.
on November 24, 2005
This movie was more then a horror-suspense movie. Although some may say differently, this movie WAS based on true facts of a 19 year old girl, whose name was Anneliese Michel, and it happened in the late 1970's. This movie just grabs you by the neck and sucks you in. After you've started watching it, hold on for dear life, you're in for one "hell" of a ride.
It's been a long time since I walked out of a movie crying and shaking for 30 minutes. I can't wait for it to come out so I can just keep watching it. It's like not wanting to stare at someone getting in trouble, but just not being able to tear your eyes away from it. I'm not sure it's the best movie for a someone under 15 or so, but for those adults out there who KNOW there's something out there that has more power over us, it's a must-see.
I reccomend this to ANYONE who wants to see a movie that is not only scary on many levels, but a movie that gets right into your head and shakes things up like they've never been shaken before.
It's incredible....many bows to the director and actors of this "documentary" unlike any other.
on November 27, 2005
In a little under a month (as of this writing) one of the year's best movies, "The Exorcism Of Emily Rose", will be coming out on DVD. It's coming in two formats - the theatrical edition and the unrated edition, which presents something of a dilemna. Normally I Always go for the full uncut version of a movie, even if it means waiting a long time, but now in the case of two movies I've seen at the theater this year (this and "Dark Water") there are unrated editions coming out of what was perfect the first time around. My curiosity and my instincts are to go with the extended editions ("Underworld", "Dawn Of The Dead" etc. would Not have been as good with Any of the material in the Unrated Extended Editions absent), but there's a vague fear of 'why tamper with perfection' in this case? I don't know, maybe I would have felt the same if I'd first seen "Underworld" or "Dawn" in the edited theatrical versions, although I can't think of anything that could have been cut from either of those movies that wouldn't have diminished their greatness. Anyway, the theatrical version is what I've seen, so that's the edition I'm reviewing.
First of all, if you have any qualms about not seeing this movie because of it true life connections (as opposed to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", which despite the hype was only Very loosely based on real events, the basis of the story having already been formulated - according to Tobe Hooper - before he ever heard of the Gein case) I'd urge you to see the movie anyway. I admit to having had some uneasiness myself, unlike with a series such as "Amityville" which was launched with the support of the people actually involved in the real (I suppose I should say supposedly real, although I find the story credible) events. "The Exorcism Of Emily Rose" was based on undeniably real events - whether or not you believe in the possession angle - involving real tragedy, so I did have my doubts.
Suffice it to say that the first half hour of the movie annihilated those doubts completely, and not just because of the super quality of the movie. I can't be specific without risking spoilers, but I'll say that "The Exorcism Of Emily Rose" proved to me that not only was it based on events where it was acceptable to make a movie out of it, but advisable.
Juxtasposing the horror movie, the courtroom drama, and the 'theological/philosophical/ethical issues' movie as if it were the most natural thing on Earth, "The Exorcism Of Emily Rose" tells the tale of an exorcism gone wrong (not a spoiler; that's apparant from the first five minutes) and the ensuing criminal case charging the priest who presided over the exorcism with negligent homicide. Told, in about equal ratios, in two timeframes - one leading from the aftermath of Emily's death through to the court case and beyond, the other from before Emily's initial possession through to her eventual death - the movie perfectly brings to life a cast of characters that it's impossible not to care deeply about (helped in no small part by the universally brilliant performances). The battles in and out of the courtroom are heated, but ironically there are no human 'bad guys' in the movie. The prosecuting attorney believes in his position, actually more strongly than the defending attorney does in hers, at least initially. The 'bad guy' element is provided by what happened to the Emily Rose character. In pursuing the route of an actual possession, few movies have ever come close to being so terrifying in their depiction of true, literal Evil. And yet at the same time there is an abundance of brightness and inspiration in the tale. Unbelievable suspense and some unforgettably horrifying moments mixed so fluently with the other side of the coin is in itself a great achievement, and "Exorcism" hits all the other marks with equal force: outstanding production, incredible visuals, tremendous musical score, superb character interaction, the whole range of everything you could ask for.
Truly one of the greatest movies of all time, definately one of 2005's very best.
on August 8, 2016
If you want gore and eye popping effects, don't watch this movie. If you expect a chronological report of what happened in the real case, well it's a movie not a documentary, so don't watch. Laura Linney made this movie with her uniquely expressive face. Even when she was falling into despair, her countenances twisted my gut. The movie is told in a courtroom and Emily's story and her experiences were told and shown in flashback fashion, which is unique in possession films. There is no gore, which is good, because that's too easy and gore is so common it's boring. I like movies that achieve an eerie and chilling effect and Laura Linney hits a home run. Without her, it would not have been interesting. I found the style of this movie to be new and fresh. By the way, if you are NOT religious devotee who is unable to leave your religion at the door, then don't watch the movie simply to give a biased review. If you are a historical purist who expects a chronological presentation of the events, then don't watch the film just so you can leave a verbose and self-absorbing review to validate your intelligence to yourself. It's just a movie, made strictly for entertainment and escape. If you like a movie that provides an eerie ambience and a leading actress who provides chilling deliveries in her scenes, the movie is definitely worth a try.
Every once in a while a thoughtful horror film comes along, one that creeps the audience out and makes it ponder at the same time. "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" is one of those films, written by Paul Harris Boardman and director Scott Derrickson, who were inspired by a true story. When a young woman named Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) dies of starvation and self-inflicted injuries at her family's Midwestern farm house, the State prosecutes her priest, Father Richard Moore (Tom Wilkinson) for negligent homicide, claiming that his encouragement to abandon medical treatment for epilepsy led to Emily's death. Emily had been suffering from frightening hallucinations, seizures, and violent behavior which she came to blame on demonic possession and believe could only be cured by exorcism. Ambitious agnostic attorney Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) defends Father Moore and the possibility that Emily's affliction may have been spiritual, while the practical, church-going prosecutor Ethan Thomas (Campbell Scott) lays the blame for Emily's death squarely on religious superstition that fed her psychosis.
"The Exorcism of Emily Rose" is part courtroom drama, part horror movie. This turns out to be a good combination, as the courtroom scenes allow Emily's story to be told in flashbacks, which paces the horror evenly throughout the film. And the horror punctuates the courtroom drama so that it never becomes plodding. The first thing that struck me about this film was the quality of the cast. Laura Linney and Campbell Scott in a horror flick? This obviously isn't schlock. Great character actors bring much-needed credibility to this spooky tale of the maybe-supernatural. Campbell Scott's role as the prosecutor, a religious man himself, brings stronger conflict to the courtroom than if it were simply a secular prosecution. Jennifer Carpenter's physicality as Emily Rose is remarkable. She's a sweet, earnest woman who does some very freaky stuff, terrifying herself and everyone else. Carpenter's incredible physical performance allowed the use of visual effects only as subtle enhancement, grounding supernatural events in realism.
The second thing that struck me about "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" is how good the film looks. Director Scott Derrickson has an impressively cinematic vision. He took great care with framing, colors, and production design. The courtroom scenes are especially captivating, thanks to production designer David Brisbin, who found a middle ground between realistically dreary institutional courtrooms and Frank Lloyd Wright. "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" claims to be "based on a true story", but "inspired by" is probably more accurate. The real case took place in the 1970s in Germany. A devoutly religious woman named Anneliese Michel, who had been epileptic and psychotic for 6 years, died in 1976 of self-imposed starvation after a series of exorcisms. Two clergymen and her parents were brought to trial on charges of negligent homicide. In the real case, it was clearer than in the movie that Miss Michel's problems were medical. But it was also clear that she had exhausted the offerings of the medical community, which was unable to successfully treat her after years of trying.
The DVD (Sony Pictures 2005): Bonus features include 1 deleted scene with optional director's commentary, 3 featurettes, and an audio commentary. In "Genesis of the Story" (19 min), writer/producer Paul Harris Boardman and writer/director Scott Derrickson talk about the film's themes and researching cases of demonic possession. The film's cast also discuss their characters. We hear how Derrickson found his actors in "Casting the Movie" (12 min), and Jennifer Carpenter talks about her role. "Visual Design" (18 min) includes discussion of Scott Derrickson's visual philosophy for the film, inspired Francis Bacon paintings. He and production designer David Brisbin talk a lot about he color palette. Costume designer Tish Monaghan talks about trying not to give the impression of a particular era. And visual effects supervisor Michael Shelton, of "Captive Audience", talks about his team's contributions. There is a good audio commentary by writer/director Scott Derrickson. He discusses the origins of the project and his intentions with the film, providing a scene-by-scene commentary on the actors, characters, visual design, pacing, sets, filming, and some technical details. Subtitles for the film are available in English only.
on May 17, 2015
I LOVE this film. It's rare when we get such talented actors in a really, suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat thriller that frankly, scared the Hell out of me! AND, that was what it is designed to do! It's a classic "good vs evil" story, but it is based rather loosely on actual events, which make it even more frightening. It had many "disturbing" scenes; example- when "Emily", played brilliantly by Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter), was in her dorm room with her friend, Jason and he woke up to find her frozen in a kind of grotesque, contorted way, on the floor, staring eerily right at him and she doesn't move an inch, leaving him feeling frightened and helpless at just how to help her.
But, I also loved the way Emily's story was told through flash-backs and other people's narratives as they try to figure out EXACTLY what happened to this 19, previously healthy but somewhat naive girl who goes off to college and must leave due to "illness" and ends up dead. The viewer knows this from the start (for those of you who hate "spoilers"), as a priest (Tom Wilkerson) is put on trial for her "murder". Laura Linney is also wonderful as the priest's agnostic attorney, as is Campbell Scott, the D.A., who is a "religious man". There is loads of drama and loads of scares! It was one of those movies that "stays with you" and I love how "Erin", the defense atty, does NOT try to debunk the "demonic possession" theory throughout the trial. This is a great film, with outstanding performances by all involved and I daresay, it will also scare the Hell out of you!
I was expecting, based on the commercials I'd heard and seen on the radio and television, a film that would be insanely disturbing and unsettling. The point of this story runs far deeper than gore and disturbing imagery could conjure.
This movie is extremely well produced and performed - and it plays on our fear of possibility. We've all heard stories of forms of possession and exorcism - never knowing what truly happened in these instances. This allows the viewer to be drawn into the movie. The mysterious occurrances portrayed will no doubt stir our suspicions.
The courtroom setting utilized brings these unearthly and mysterious elements into the "real world"; the world where reason is supposed to dictate what is perceived as truth. This exposes us to the ways in which people react to the telling of such experiences. We are then left to form our own conclusions, drawing on our beliefs and fears: the belief of what is possible and our fear of those very things actually happening to people. All of this makes for great entertainment and great reflection. Expecting a film to disturb and rattle me, I was unprepared for what I was exposed to.
The DVD contains 3 featurettes: Genesis of the Story, Casting the Movie and Visual Design. These lengthy featurettes give great insight into the film's production, from the origins of the desire to create a film based on the real life experiences of Anneliese Michel to the means by which the filmmakers visually created the world of torment Emily Rose suffered. All elements were carefully chosen in creating the "look" of the recalled scenes of Emily's experiences. Great attention was paid to the color, lighting, sound and dialogue of these scenes - all of which is discussed in the featurette. There is also a deleted scene included in the special features which wouldn't have done much for the film had it been included.
This film did not turn out to be what I had expected, yet it entertained me in a different way and had effects that lasted beyond the viewing of the movie. It will please fans of horror movies, thrillers, dramas, etc...
on January 5, 2007
I orginally saw this movie as a rated version and came away very confused. I really enjoyed the unrated version of this film. It made much more sense to me. I don't know the difference in the two, but this one (to me) gave alot more explaination to what had happened. I do give the priest alot of credit going the full length and seeing it through. I won't give it away, so just see the movie and decide for yourself.
I enjoy a good horror story, and this one is that much better by being inspired by the true story of Anneliese Michel, a German woman who experienced a similar progression of events to those depicted in this movie. I found the movie to be eerie and chilling, and a great movie to inspire thought about the existence of demons in our modern world. The movie adroitly avoids determining whether there are demons, leaving each viewer to make their own decision. Though I have always been skeptical regarding stories of possession, this movie certainly was convincing in its portrayal.
Emily Rose starts life rather unremarkably. She was brought up in a family that was strongly, but not extremely, religious. She went away to college on a full scholarship, the pride of her family. After a while, Emily began experiencing hallucinations, and she became convinced that demons possessed her. A number of physical manifestations of Emily Rose's symptoms were very realistic and frightening. Eventually Emily Rose requested an exorcism be performed after medical treatment seemed to fail. Soon after the exorcism was performed, Emily Rose died.
The trial of the priest that performed the exorcism is the central plot to this movie. We see Emily Rose's life through the priest's eyes. The story builds in terror as Emily's symptoms increase. When the priest's agnostic attorney experiences bizarre manifestations, I started really getting chills down my spine. I am unable to provide more details without giving away so much that there will be no need to watch the movie.
I have always thought that the best horror movies rely on psychology. This movie does just that. The amount of blood is minimal, though some of the images are horrifying. I was unable to see anything in the movie that I thought deserved more than a PG-13 rating, which makes the unrated version a lot of hype, but what is there enhances the chill factor substantially.
Hollywood rarely attempts a movie with this level of sophistication. When it does, it seems like there are inadequate rewards. In the case of this movie, I confirm Siskel and Roeper's two thumbs up. Fans of psychological horror and those who have always believed in demon possession will find this movie sufficiently horrific that they will want to watch this one more than once.