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The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Directed by Scott Derrickson Written by Paul Harris Boardman & Scott Derrickson

I move on to a film pertaining to the topic of exorcism in which goes beyond just the standardized story. Based on true events occurring in 1976 The Exorcism of Emily Rose takes you through the similar trial experience concerning the tragic death of Anneliese Michel. However the difference on the screen version is that they only show the prosecution of the main pastor when in real life the courts had convicted the parents of Anneliese as well as both pastors. The reason the courts chose to drop the charges on the parents being simply that they had suffered enough. Several unexplained factors conveyed throughout the film may make you raise questions on faith as well as the ideas of the paranormal and what could be possible in dealing with a realm outside our own, but it is these same key aspects that I believe make this film stand out amongst the others.

Viewing the film it’s clear there are really two movies that conjoin to tell the story of this young girl. On the one end you have the story playing out the truth as put on-screen giving you an idea of what our unfortunate female lead had to endure. Matching with the other end showing in great detail the trial following the events and how Anneliese (Emily as the movie refers to) become to inspire interest. Her gravesite was eventually made into an unofficial divine shrine.

Leading the cast is Laura Linney, (Erin Bruner) the attorney working for the Pastor involved in Emily’s case. Linney was actually also responsible for at least three other castings in the film, providing the always incredible performance as seen throughout her career. Working opposite Campbell Scott in the courtroom, Linney had apparently been good friends with Campbell off-screen and had thought of him first when asked as to any suggestions for the role. The pairing of the two gave the courtroom scenes a tension that added to the sincerity of the plot and made Scott a worthy opponent in the battle for validity. Linney primarily strays from Horror films but brought an intelligence to the film that made it more than just an average terror film. Being skeptical herself to the possibility of demons even existing, Linney’s character works through the trial being made to become an eventual believer in more than just the spiritual realm.

Jennifer Carpenter plays Emily Rose. Previously being seen as the hilarious friend with a weight problem in White Chicks. No matter how often I’ve seen this film, Carpenter’s performance never fails in delivering a chilling presentation of a poor girl at the mercy of the spirit evoking her body. Being double jointed and an athlete helped in being able to further her impressive performance that makes you question why this woman doesn’t receive more noteworthy roles. Rounding out the cast playing Father Moore was Tom Wilkinson. Wilkinson was another exceptional choice in this film and able to play the part of the emphatic pastor whose only wish was to share Emily’s story, even if that meant being behind bars. He gave yet another endearing performance as is usually expected, rarely disappointing.

To view a film that sways so finely into two genres and is still capable of having terrifying moments and keeping you on your toes makes it all the more compelling. The film was meant to be set in the same time period as the real story, as stated earlier occurring in the 70s. Though you generally cannot tell when it was set. However whether it was the scenery, wardrobe or simplicity of it all, it worked masterly on all accounts. A difficult thing to accomplish when setting the tone of a Horror film infused with a court drama. While it seems as though a rare occurrence when someone brings up this film on their own, I believe in time it will be seen as the hidden gem I consider it myself.