"The Exorcism of Emily Rose" A Review
(c) Shannon Parsons 2005
Trust me- I was scared to see this film. But curiosity got the best
of myself and two friends and we decided to brave it together one
night. I am very glad we did.
In the wrong hands, this film could have been just another gruesome,
overdone screamfest, but thanks to the craftsmanship of director Scott
Derrickson and main players Laura Linney, Jennifer Carpenter and Tim
Wilkinson, this real life nightmare was pulled off with class and
Now, being the super-sleuth I am (or rather fancy myself to be), I
did a little digging after seeing the film to find out just how true
to life it was. What I discovered was that it is based on the life of
Anneliese Michel, a young German girl, whose life irrevocably changed
one day in 1968 when she became possessed by demons. At least this is
what she and many others believed to be the case. The events that
happen to her during the next eight years of her life are what the
makers of The Exorcism of Emily Rose base the film on. The story
finds Anneliese's parents and priests on trial for negligent homicide
after the exorcism and care they provided for her allegedly result in
her death. I won't go into detail here about Anneliese's life, but
you can check her story out for yourself
In a television interview, Laura Linney said that she would only
agree to do this film if Jennifer Carpenter (a young, relatively
unknown actress with whom she did some Broadway) was cast as Emily.
And was she on the money! Carpenter apparently did most of her own
stunts-none the least of which included twisting and contorting her
body into grotesque convulsions during her most tormented possession
moments. As a result of her talents, the filmmakers had to use very
few special effects which makes the film look shockingly real.
Linney herself gives a great performance as Erin Bruner, the defense lawyer for Father Moore (played by the ever-amazing Wilkinson). She initially takes the high profile case to increase her chances of making partner in her firm, but she ends up getting a little more than she bargained for. A self-proclaimed skeptic, she encounters some strange occurrences in her life during the trial which cause her to question her beliefs.
Wilkinson is equally convincing in the role of Father Moore- a man completely steadfast in the defense of his actions. But, more important to him than his own defense, is getting Emily's message out to the world- a message that I won't reveal here.
Now, the possession and the scenes that depict it were terrifying, but what I found almost equally terrifying
were the things that start happening to the people involved in the
trial. Without giving too much away, it suffices to say that in one
scene Father Moore warns Erin that there are dark forces surrounding the case and that she
needs to be careful. When she replies that she doesn't believe in
demons, he says "it doesn't matter whether you believe in them or
not, they exist".
The "faith vs. science" trial proceeds with equally convincing
arguments put forth by both the defense and the prosecution. Was
Emily Rose truly possessed by six demons or was she an "epileptic
schizophrenic" who should never have been taken off her anti-
psychotic meds? Is the Church responsible for her death based on the
choices they made, despite the fact that Emily and her parents chose
to place her in its care? And for a refreshing change, Hollywood
leaves us to draw our own conclusions about what happened to Emily,
instead of forcing us in one direction.
Going home to my darkened apartment that night was a challenge. And
when I awoke in the middle of the night, I very reluctantly and very
slowly turned my head toward my alarm clock to see what time it was.
But you will have to brave the film and figure that one out for