"It has begun, let us pray..."
Written and Directed by Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange, Sinister, Deliver Us From Evil) and loosely based on a true story of an exorcism of a girl in Germany named Anneliese Michel, the American adaptation (Germans made one as well named Requiem (2006) and was more of a psychological drama than possession film) is frightening, captivating and full of jump scares.
The Exorcism Of Emily Rose is half court room based drama and half horror film and it blends quite well. And you need the break from the horrors that plague Emily Rose because they can, at times, get pretty intense and really messes with your head.
The film is set in America, not Germany, so it's heavily adapted but that doesn't take away from the very interesting story being told. Told through flashbacks, the plot revolves around 19 year old Emily Rose, a college student away from home, who suddenly begins experiencing strange demonic attacks.
When the episodes begin to intensify, she is sent to doctors who diagnose her with epilepsy and is put on medication, but it has no effect. In desperation, her parents send her home from college and turn to their parish priest, Father Moore, for help.
He believes Emily to be possessed and concludes an exorcism is the only option to save her. Unfortunately, Emily passes away during the ordeal. Father Moore is arrested for negligent homicide and must face court.
What the film does tremendously well is asks questions. It walks a fine line as to whether Emily was possessed or was sick. It made strong cases for both. It might depend on your beliefs as to whether, as a viewer, she was possessed or not. It's one of those films where it makes the case that Emily was sick but then the next minute had you believing she was under a demonic spell.
Once again, I think it depends on the audience because after each viewing I picked up something different and had me believing different things. Being raised a Catholic, it didn't totally convince me that she was possessed but then on another viewing I was convinced she was – it can be confusing but that's what makes for a good movie.
The demonic possession scenes are frightening. It terrified the hell out of me in the cinema and could barely sleep that night. Particularly when Emily Rose started to see the demon manifest itself on fellow classmates to scare her. The 3am wake up calls that Emily and other characters woke up to didn't help me rest that night and in fact I was roused at 3am and that was it for sleeping that night.
Performances were impressive by all. Tom Wilkinson as Father Moore was someone you genuinely felt sympathy for, as he was just trying to help the poor girl and the family but it didn't go as planned. It was a natural performance by Tom.
His lawyer Erin Brauer, played by the gorgeous Laura Linney, was a standout. She takes the case to help her career even though she is not religious and is an agnostic. Then there is her opponent Ethan Thomas, played by a very smug Campbell Scott: what's interesting about Ethan Thomas is that he is a Christian but doesn't believe in possession and boy does he show no remorse towards Father Moore. It was played to perfection by Mr Scott, he's an interesting character to watch.
But the most impressive performance was by Jennifer Carpenter, who portrays the possessed Emily Rose with such gusto and throws everything into the role - be it whether she was under demonic influence or losing her mind when being attacked. She deserves special praise.
Overall, it's a good effort into the demonic possession line of films. It's definitely a movie that will make you jump in certain scenes and make you hide under the covers. The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, even 12 years later, is still watchable and still scares me in the same spots.
By no means a great horror film, it sometimes goes a little overboard and the amount of screaming by Jennifer was a little too much, but it's most definitely a good flick and worth your time.