"I am the
Defence lawyer Erin Bruner (Linney) has made a name for herself
with big profile cases but when she takes on a case of negligent homicide
involving a Catholic priest, she takes on more than just the court case.
The death of country girl Emily Rose (Carpenter) is shrouded in controversy
with medical and spiritual connotations because the prosecution is saying
that she died because of Father Moore's actions that led up to him performing
Demonic possession has become a horror movie stalwart but
can a more realistic approach bring some credibility to an exorcism?
Based on the true story of Anneliese Michel, a young German
woman who suffered the same fate in the 1970s, Hollywood has kept most of
the details but relocated the events to modern America and changed the names
of the characters. What makes the film different from every other movie
that has dealt with demonic is that possession itself is not the maid driving
force of the story. This is, at its essence, a courtroom drama about a Catholic
priest's involvement in the death of a nineteen year-old girl.
The Hollywood version of the story takes a devout catholic
country girl and sends her to a big city University. There, one storm filled
night she is attacked by an invisible assailant and is never the same again.
As she starts to see and hear things and then lose control of her own actions,
she turns to her priest Father Moore. This is the driving force of the film
but not the main element of it.
This is a courtroom drama driven by the quest to find the
truth and how religion and science try to explain what happened to Emily
Rose. Father Moore is charged with negligent homicide because he didn't
do enough to prevent her from dying. As demonic possession is deemed impossible
by the modern world, the prosecution explains to the jury that is was the
lack of medical care for a curable condition that led to her death. The
defence argues however that demonic possession is real and her religion
is the only thing that could have saved her. This is an argument that goes
much deeper that whether Emily was possessed or not, but an argument for
belief and the existence of evil in the world.
By treating the subject matter with respect and realism however,
the film is not as frightening as it could have been. The main problem is
one that has plagued many films with the same premise, why would the Devil,
the ultimate embodiment of evil, possess a nineteen year-old country girl?
Surely he would be better off possessing someone of influence or power to
escalate his hold on the world. What could he possibly do as a girl from
the countryside? While some may argue that he is corrupting an innocent
but this doesn't seem to be evil enough.
The performances however are realistic. With Laura Linney,
Tom Wilkinson and Campbell Scott in the courtroom, you can expect the film
to take itself very seriously. Laura Linney is one of the finest actresses
working in cinema today and as the slightly sceptical defence lawyer Erin
Bruner, she creates believable character that is easy to follow and get
behind. Tom Wilkinson continues to make a name for himself in Hollywood.
The British actor is excellent as Father Moore, even though he has a slightly
dodgy American accent. Campbell Scott returns to big budget Hollywood for
the first time in years and reminds the big wigs that he is an accomplished
actor that can bring something more to a quite dislikeable character.
Stealing the show however is the performance of Jennifer Carpenter
as Emily Rose. She really conveys the sense of fear as her condition worsens
during the flashback recounts of her possession. This is a real career-making
role for the actress and shows her impressive rage that should see her in
the mind of many a casting director.
'The Exorcism of Emily Rose' is excellently acted but lacks
the scares that would have made it a great, intelligent horror movie. The
premise is first rate and it is approached with great intelligence so that
you are intrigued by the story and the performances but it doesn't strike
any fear into you. The lingering question of why the Devil would possess
Emily means that this doesn't impact that it should have but this is still
decent intelligent horror and much better than anything Hollywood has produced
in a long time.
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in Widescreen 2.40:1 Anamorphic with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack,
the transfer is good.
The man at the helm, Scott Derrickson offers an informative and insightful
commentary track to accompany the film. The director talks about the origins
of the subject and how the original German case was transferred to the
US. He also talks about the visual style of the movie, emphasising the
modern look and the colour pallet of the piece. The casting of the film
is also discussed in this good single person track.
Featurettes (51.01 mins)
Director Scott Derrickson, writer/producer Paul Harris Boardman, production
designer David Briston, costume designer Tish Monaghan, visual effects
supervisor Michael Shelton and stars Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Jennifer
Carpenter and Campbell Scott talk about bringing the real life German
story about Annalise Michel's demonic possession, her death and the subsequent
court case against the Catholic priest who performed the exorcism. Split
into three parts entitled 'Genesis of the Story', 'Casting the movie'
and 'Visual Design', the featurettes cover most aspects of the film's
production. The director and writer talk about the changes to the story,
modernising it and transferring to the US. The cast talk about what attracted
them to the film, the mixture of horror and courtroom drama and the casting
of Emily Rose. We also here about how the visual effects of the films
were created and the fact that Jennifer Carpenter brought so much to the
role that many visual effects were not needed.
Deleted Scene (2.43 mins)
With optional commentary from director Scott Derrickson, this scene shows
Erin Bruner trying to find some comfort during the traumatic case.
Previews of 'Into the Blue', 'Mirrormask', 'Stealth' and 'The Fog'
The DVD presentation of 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose' is as good as ever
from a Sony release. The featurettes cover the story and the making of
the film and the commentary is good, even though it is a single person
one. Fans of the film should be very pleased.