"The Exorcism of Emily Rose": It possesses you with thought
Dan walked out within the first five minutes of “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” never to return again. He doesn’t even live next to a haunted bed and breakfast anymore – but no amount of pleas would convince him to see this movie.Though I think Dan overreacted, I don’t think this film should be rated PG-13; it’s stories like these that scar children. Truth be told, I actually didn’t beg Dan to see the movie, because I didn’t want to be responsible for him waking up every night at 3 a.m.
“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is based on the experiences of a German woman, Anneliese Michel, who was born in 1952. At age 16, she began shaking uncontrollably and seeing demons. Doctors diagnosed her with grand mal epilepsy and psychosis. But her devoutly Catholic family believed demons had possessed her. The Catholic Church refused to perform an exorcism, saying she didn’t show the proper signs of possession. But about six years after her symptoms began, the bishop of Wurzburg granted the local pastor to perform exorcisms, which he did twice a week. She improved, only to deteriorate again. She eventually died of starvation at age 23, and her parents and pastor faced charges of negligent homicide.In 1973, “The Exorcist” came out, and psychiatrists throughout Europe reported an increase of fears about possession in their patients. So prosecutors took more than two years to bring Michel’s case to court, where attorneys played more than 40 hours of audio tape of the exorcisms.
“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” condenses the time period the girl suffered and tells her story through a series of flashbacks, interspersed with a courtroom drama.Though there are a few startling scenes with demons’ faces and contorted body positions, the movie is more of a psychological – or spiritual, if you will – thriller than a horror flick; to the director’s credit, there aren’t any 360-degree head rotations or projectile vomiting sprees.The question of whether the girl’s symptoms originated from physical and mental illness or from demonic possession is compelling, and the movie does an excellent job of presenting both sides rather convincingly.But the secondary stories add a whole other layer of depth. Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson) refuses to take a deal that would result in a six-month prison term, as opposed to a possible 10-year term, because he demands to tell Emily’s (Jennifer Carpenter) story to the public. Defense attorney Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) is an agnostic whose main goal is to become an equal partner in her firm through this case. As she develops faith in the priest, she takes risks and even begins to develop spiritually.
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