“In this blend of psychological thriller and courtroom drama, Emily Rose (played by Jennifer Carpenter) is a 19-year-old college student who begins displaying bizarre and troubling behavior; as her actions become increasingly destructive and shocking, Emily begins speaking in strange tongues and destroying religious symbols that surround her.”
If you generally find yourself being sucked into courtroom dramas and have the slightest interest in demon possession, I highly recommend this film. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of sitting through opening statements, arguments, and a predictable script of legal jargon, but this movie is one of my favorite exceptions.
The director of this 2005 thriller is Scott Derrickson. The fascinating thing about The Exorcism of Emily Rose is that it is inspired by true events. The plot is derived from the real-life story of Anneliese Michel, a young woman from Germany who died in 1976 after priests in Wurzburg spent eight months attempting to exorcise six demons from her body. I have a deeper respect and appreciation for movies that are based on truth, especially in this case when it is so brutal and just down right sad.
The story begins when lawyer, Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) takes on the state as she fights in defense of a priest, Father Richard Moore (Tom Wilkinson) who has performed an exorcism on Emily, supposedly resulting in the young girls demise. In opposition, state prosecution Ethan Thomas (Campbell Scott), intends to prove there were concrete medical explanations for Emily’s behaviors, including epilepsy and schizophrenia.
A flashback from the courtroom reveals how Emily’s ordeal came about. After recently being accepted into college, she prepares for her first time living away from her strict, religious home. The first episode with the demon(s) takes place while in her dorm room at 3:00am. After this severe attack, Emily is left hospitalized where she is diagnosed with epilepsy. Finally she returns home and her parents are convinced this is not a medical condition, but rather an invasion of evil spirits. As the movie flips between court room scenes and incident flashbacks, we learn more about the young women’s afflictions including severe bodily contortions, super human strength, hallucinations, vulgar screaming, and starvation just to name a few. Did I mention, she is huddled in a corner eating spiders and bugs in one scene! Yes, yum! A swarm of doctors and physiatrists voice theories at the trial about these strange happenings. Characters surrounding the case begin to find themselves being visited by dark forces as the trial grows more intense.
Finally, we see that Father Moore is found guilty, however he agrees to a sentence of time served. The film ends with Erin Brunner and Father Moore visiting Emily’s gravesite upon which he has laid a bible quote; “Work out your own salvation, with fear and trembling”. This was what Emily recited to him the day before she died. *quiver*
I will close by saying this is definitely a good, non-gory movie. The debate between science and religion is present throughout the entire film and the viewer ultimately becomes the jury. It may not fall into the typical horror category of “Halloween” or “Friday the 13th” but nonetheless, it deserves mention and it certainly had me looking over my shoulder for a few days after! Enjoy!