Wednesday, November 30, 2005

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE - Fails both as a horror flick and as a legal thriller

Let me set out my stall. I am a big girl when it comes to horror movies. Harry Potter 4 scared me silly. So when I say that THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE failed as a horror movie, you can take it from me that this is not because I am some hard-core fan of blood, gore and severed limbs. The set pieces in this flick had the audience in the screening laughing. I wasn't scared one bit. And that is a bit of a structural flaw for a movie with the word "exorcism" in its title.

So, horror aside, what can we salvage from this movie? Well, aside from all the spooooooooky stuff, we have the remains of a half-decent legal thriller. Emily Rose is a devout Catholic teenager who believes herself possessed by demons. Her university medical practitioners believe her to be suffering from epileptic fits and psychosis and put her on medication. However her family and her parish priest believe her to be possessed and attempt an exorcism. The rite fails and Emily dies. At this point, the priest, played without any sense of emotion or conviction by the usually superb Tom Wilkinson, is taken to court on charges of criminal negligence. According to the prosecution, he should have called in the doctors rather than resort to superstitious mumbo-jumbo. There follows a typically melo-dramatic American court-room drama, with Laura Linney on auto-pilot as the defence attorney. The moment when the prosecutor calls an "objection on the grounds of silliness" is truly the low point of the movie.

I was rather disappointed by THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE. The movie appears to have been filmed without any sense of passion or intellectual engagement with what could have been a very interesting topic: how far can modern people, even religious people, really take the existence of demons and the like seriously? Apparently a German production based on the same true story is due for release next year, and it will be interesting to see if they can bring a greater degree of authenticity and credibility to the project. Until then, if you think you're hard enough, you'd be better off renting

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE went on release in the US in September and in the UK and Germany last weekend. It goes on release in France on the 7th December 2005.

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