Genuinely unnerving and frightening, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is one of the best horror movies of this decade. It all started with a single movie released back in 1973 and during the following decades, it grew into something much, much bigger. That movie is, of course, The Exorcist and the sub-genre that it created is one of the most recognizable in cinema history. There have been many sequels and attempts to recreate the original sense of terror and evil, but most of them failed miserably. Oddly enough, Exorcist: The Beginning and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, were both very good movies. However, this one is better.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose is based on true events, much more so than other movies claiming the same thing. Sure, they had to alter a couple of things but the overall story is very accurate. I will leave the link after the review if you want to find out more about this case. After perfecting his horror skills with Hellraiser: Inferno, Scott Derrickson created a masterpiece. A masterpiece powered by Jennifer Carpenter’s stunning performance. Her audition was so convincing that she got the role right away. I should also mention Tom Wilkinson and Laura Linney who were also great.
Right from the start, we’re immersed in this fucked up and foreboding atmosphere. You can feel it swallowing you whole and filling you with a sense of despair and I’ll say it, evil. And this is just the beginning of the movie, the worst stuff is yet to come. This is not a simple horror movie but a complex examination of a surreal case. It looks at these events from different perspectives, trying to get the full picture. I mean, at times this is actually a courtroom drama for fucks sake! As such, it was quite thought-provoking and intriguing. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t scary because it is. I mean that fucking barn scene is still seared into my memory. Complete with the names of those six demons, mind you.
Emily Rose was a troubled young girl who was just 19 years old when she passed away. She had trouble eating and was hearing all kinds of voices. But that’s not all, it would seem that her problems were much worse. So much so, that her family enlisted the help of Father Moore, a priest with some expertise in this field. The field of exorcism.
By using this rational and authentic approach The Exorcism of Emily Rose makes all the events seem much more realistic. It feels like we’re watching a balanced approach to these things and while you’re thinking that, Scott slips you a horror pill in your glass. And before you know it you start feeling that uncomfortable feeling in your stomach. Granted, there are some pacing and dialogue issues but I consider them forgivable offenses. The story told here is just so potent that it covers that up nicely. Not to mention Carpenter’s performance that really accentuates just how horrific Emily’s or should I say Anneliese’s experience was. By the way, I don’t recommend listening to her tapes as I found them truly haunting.
Finally, I want to be perfectly clear, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a commercial horror movie amplified by the real events it portrays. It’s nowhere near truly traumatic horror movies like Martyrs, Deadgirl or Inside. And if you’re looking for more of the same check out our Rabbit Review selection of Exorcism Movies.
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writers: Paul Harris Boardman, Scott Derrickson
Cast: Jennifer Carpenter, Tom Wilkinson, Laura Linney, Campbell Scott, Colm Feore