Linney's Courtroom Demon

Laura Linney in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) had won a scholarship to go to New York to study to become a teacher but something happened and she started to suffer from hysteria, hallucinations leading to her being hospitalized where despite her own belief that she has been possessed the doctors diagnose apilepsy and put her on drugs. When the drugs don't work her parents call in Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson) who performs an exorcism but during the ceremony Emily dies. It leads to Father Moore's arrest as he is charged with negligent homicide and the courtroom where Father Moore wishes to go to trial despite going against the wishes of the church who want him to accept a plea bargain to hush the story up. It also goes against the wishes of his lawyer Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) who thinks Father Moore is mad to want to go to court although admires him for having the courage of his convictions.

"The Exorcism of Emily Rose" is a reminder to me to never judge a movie by its title as with the word Exorcism in the title I had put off watching his movie expecting another horror movie. Yet the truth is that whilst we do have some horror scenes, some classic style fright scenes rather than psychological horror what we actually get is a courtroom drama with Father Moore telling his version of the story and Erin Bruner defending him. If I had realised that sooner I would probably have watched "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" much sooner although having said that I don't think I would have been any more impressed than I was as in the end it is an interesting but ordinary movie.

Tom Wilkinson in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Now as I mentioned "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" is a courtroom drama and as such it has lots of expected courtroom elements, lawyer talk, objections, powerful closing statements and so on. And director Scott Derrickson handles all the courtroom side of things in a solid manner and explores the complexity of the trial nicely when it comes to the ramifications of a decision from what it means to the medical profession if Father Moore is found not guilty to what it means when it comes to confirming demonic possession. But we also see what it means if he is found guilty to him and the church as a whole on the subject of which we also see how the church would rather hush things up despite approving the exorcism.

But the thing is that the whole courtroom drama just isn't powerful enough but then neither are all the flashbacks which we see when it comes to Emily Rose as she starts to suffer from hallucinations and hysteria. Now I like classic horror, I like things which make you jump but here is it a case that banging doors and creepy shots of never ending corridors or moving pen pots fail to really scare the proverbial crap out of me. In fairness actress Jennifer Carpenter does a good job of selling the more violent of possession scenes and they are when the movie is at its most disturbing rather than frightening.

And that is the things about "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" it benefits from good actors delivering good performances whilst the unfolding drama doesn't quite get you gripped. But whilst Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Campbell Scott and Jennifer Carpenter all deliver the professional performances you expect the characters themselves are not great and are certainlynot memorable.

What this all boils down to is that "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" ends up neither a great courtroom drama or horror movie and if it wasn't for the calibre of the cast it would be a struggle to watch. What I will say is don't judge a movie by its title as whilst "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" has elements of horror it is not an all out horror movie and might leave those looking for some frights under whelmed.

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