Starring: Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Campbell Scott.
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed By: Scott Derrickson
Written By: Paul Harris Boardman & Scott Derrickson.
Most people would avoid watching this film, mainly for the fact that the word exorcism is in the title. That word holds many connotations towards the devil but if anything most will think of the banned film The Exorcist. I can assure you now The Exorcist this is not.
The Exorcism Of Emily Rose is the story about, well the exorcism of Emily Rose. At the beginning of the film we are made aware that she has died during an exorcism performed by Father Moore (Wilkinson). The Doctor on duty that night has then told the police that the death was not caused by natural causes, so Father Moore is arrested on suspicion of murder and later charged for negligent manslaughter. The story un folds with Father Moore on trial for the manslaughter, defended by a non-believing lawyer Erin Bruner (Linney). Moore is told to take a plea and get off with a shorter sentence but he announces that he is not in it to reinstate his reputation, he just wants to tell Emily's story.
As the trial unwinds, Emily's story is told through flashbacks. The prosecution are adamant that Emily suffered from epilepsy, the cause of her seizures, or psychotic behaviour, the reasons for her aggressive out bursts. On the other hand the defence are trying to persuade the jury that in fact it was all the work of the devil and that Father Moore was attempting to save Emily as opposed to killing her. The entire story is played out via the courtroom with the flashbacks taking us away from it and other minimal scenes from the present. This is one of the major problems with the film.
As I said at the top, people will consider this to be like The Exorcist. Ever since that film, the word alone is enough to send shiver and intrigue down someone's spine. This film however will send nothing down your spine what so ever. The film has as much scares within it as the titles of The Exorcist did. Not once was I frightened and not once was I cowering away like I was when watching Linda Blair's head spin around. I know I shouldn't be judging this based on a film made decades before, but the film will bring these connotations because of that one word alone, and using that one word in your title means you have a lot to live up to.
Some courtroom drama films can be brilliant. Many are tense due to the acting and camera work, and others tell an intriguing story. This courtroom drama fails to do either. Not once were the scenes tense, and the direction seemed to be lacking. The acting was below par, especially for the talent on show, Wilkinson especially seemed uninterested and like he was only reading the words off the page and the two lawyers (Linney & Scott) were unbelievable as characters with so much power. The whole part in the courtroom, which was most of the movie, just didn't feel like a real trial. The Judge looked and acted like she was half asleep, and every single bout of questioning ended with an 'objection' cry, followed by 'no further questions'. Every single time! The camera work within the courtroom was also as if it was made for a cheap television channel and not a feature length film starring crowd pleasing actors.
Rambling on about the courtroom is boring now, and with a film titled how it is you would not expect to be bored by courtroom drama, but I'm afraid in this film you will. It just plods along with nothing really happening, and every now and again we will get a flashback to Emily seeing people's faces turn to demons. This was not really showing you the exorcist but the aftermath and, unless I'm missing the point, it did not work.
The exorcism scenes were alright but they were too and far between, and I was surprised at the end to see the family so involved with the exorcism but voiceless in the rest of the film. Would they not have something to say about the whole thing? The film just rolls over several key issues and eventually stumbles onto a poor, cheesy, unconvincing climax. By the end I was uninterested.
The film failed to keep me entertained, and in fact at times failed to keep my concentration. It is not a film to watch if you want thrills and it isn't one to watch if you want tense courtroom drama. It seems to be the wrong story to be told via courtroom. It is based on a true story and perhaps that is the selling point, but after watching it I have realised that I don't really care, and whatever you say I will not believe demons exist.
1 / 5
Next film to review: SPHERE