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The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Exorcism of Emily RoseI can see it now. People complaining that they were mislead by this film's trailer or advertising campaign into believing this is a horror film. For some reason, nothing cheeses a person (myself not included) more than feeling hoodwinked by a film's trailer. I still recall, with great contempt, the aggravations brought about by the incessant e-mails and message board postings about how Signs (2002) "mislead" legions of moviegoers into believing it was an alien invasion horror flick. Then, when it turned out to be a bit more cerebral and a bit less "creature feature", the horror fan-boys lashed out in droves. That said, for anyone wanting to see an all-out horror film... don't watch The Exorcism of Emily Rose! It's actually a thrilling courtroom drama about an exorcism gone horribly awry. Yes, it contains some truly chill-inducing horror sequences. No, it's not a mile-a-minute horror gore-fest.

The film loosely recounts the real-life trial of a priest accused of the negligent death of a 19 year-old college girl who was believed possessed. Set in the courtroom, writers Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson methodically reveal the story of Emily's (Jennifer Carpenter) exorcism through the use of terrifying flashbacks. As the trial plays out, we learn that shortly after Emily left her rural home to attend college, she began having violent and terrifying hallucinations. As her attacks became more and more frequent and her prescribed medication failed to work, Emily's family turned to the family priest, who recommended an exorcism. But Emily unexpectedly died during the exorcism, plunging not only Emily's family, but also the entire Catholic Church into controversy.

The Catholic Diocese hires the services of defense attorney Erin Brunner (Laura Linney), who reluctantly accepts the case in exchange for a senior partnership in her law firm. As the trial progresses, and Erin becomes victim to some seemingly otherworldly occurrences, we see her go through a wonderful character transformation. Where she once found contentment in her skeptical agnosticism, she now must deal with the uncomfortable possibility of spirituality that she doesn't want to accept. {googleads}

Playing Father Moore is Tom Wilkinson who portrays the priest with a believable calmness and genuine sympathy that makes the whole premise work. That he's cool, calm and collected makes us want to hear his side of the story. If he were the radical, loose cannon type priest typified in most exorcism movies, we'd be more apt to dismiss the possibility that Emily might indeed have been possessed. Father Moore fights off the prosecution's claims that Emily was not possessed at all, but that she was afflicted with a deadly combination of epilepsy and psychosis.

Though she actually plays a rather minor character with regards to screentime, Jennifer Carpenter, as Emily Rose, delivers a truly frightening rendition of a soul possessed. Unassisted by computers or special effects, Carpenter twists and contorts into unimaginable positions, all the while spewing German, Aramaic, Latin and buckets of bile.

Director Scott Derrickson does not try to force-feed his message. He addresses a fundamental human fear by asking the question - does evil really exist? He presents both sides of the dilemma with equal effectiveness, allowing us to draw our own conclusions. His use of flashbacks gives the viewer the opportunity to see both sides of the science vs. faith debate with immediate feedback.

Get what you want out of it, but the facts remain. The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a tight, smart, well-acted but sometimes a bit too talky supernatural thriller with numerous truly goose bump-raising moments. It's not a horror film and it's not The Exorcist. But it is a nice little compelling twist on the courtroom drama.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Thai
Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo; French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; making-of featurette; cast and crew information;

* Audio Commentaries:
o Feature-length audio commentary with the director of the film, Scott Derrickson.
* Deleted Scenes: 1 2:40 sec scene that didn't make the final cut.
* Documentaries:
o Genesis of the story - (19:45) examines the origin of the film. includes behind-the-scenes footage and some interviews
o Casting the Film - (12:20) A look at how the actors were chosen for their parts.
o Visual Design - (18:55) An indepth look at costumes, puppetry and other visual effects that were used to bring the film to life.
* Trailers: for other Sony pictures releases: Sueno; The Boogeyman; The Gospel; Open Season; Mirrormask; The Fog; The Cave; The DaVinci Code; The Pink Panther; The Amityville Horror; and Into the Blue.

Number of discs: - 1 - Keepcase Packaging.


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