‘Exorcism of Emily Rose’ has some edge-of-your-seat chills
September 7, 2005
“Exorcism of Emily Rose” (3.5 out of 5 bagels)
Oh sure, I was scared by “The Omen” (the sequels horrified me even more, though, as they kept on coming), and who can forget the negative visuals of pea soup when “The Exorcist” ruined Linda Blair’s career?
Now we are treated (treated?) to the latest in demon fare with “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” Based on a true story (that makes it even more horrifying) about a young lady who is misdiagnosed by doctors and is then turned over to a priest, the movie has some horrific moments. How horrifying? Think of that first Internet date when the picture of your prospective mate turns out to be off by 20 years. Yes! That horrifying!
The story was inspired by real events that took place in 1978, when Emily (Jennifer Carpenter, who is quite the screamer), a young coed who goes off to college and becomes infested by demons. Was it the dorm? Maybe it was her major? Anyway, she sees dead people and eventually drops out and returns home, but the images still persist within.
First she is diagnosed as an epileptic and then as a psychotic. When that fails, they bring in Father Richard Moore (Tom Wilkinson). However, by this time she is losing her soul and in dire need of an exorcism. Nothing Burning Man can’t cure, though, right?
Things get real interesting when Father Moore is charged with negligent homicide (the exorcism didn’t go as planned). In his corner is defense attorney Erin Bruner (played wonderfully by the very talented Laura Linney), an atheist. What follows is her conversion based on her client’s testimony. I have to tell you that at this point the movie really gets scary and I was on the edge of my seat more than one time, let me tell you. As she shifts from a non-believer to one who discovers faith, her newborn faith is frightening because if you believe in a Supreme existence, you know that a Satan is also out there.
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Writer/director Scott Derrickson (along with writing collaborator Paul Harris Boardman) does a fine job showing us the transformation of Linney’s character and the personal demons that she encounters. More importantly, it forces the viewing audience to take sides and and to challenge their belief system.
Wilkinson proves once again that he can take on a myriad of roles and still be as convincing as ever. Who would have thought that this was the same guy who taught those lads how to dance in “The Full Monty,” eh? As far as Linney’s character … well, she doesn’t turn her head around or vomit pea soup, but she does see strange doings that go “bump” in the night, and you will be on the edge of your seat. For a PG-13 rating – I was expecting an R – it sent chills down my spine.
– Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv Comedy Club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout northern California and Nevada. He co-hosts the morning show on Tahoe’s KRLT radio and you can see his film reviews every Friday morning on KOLO ABC TV Channel 8 and weekends on KMTN television here in South Lake Tahoe.