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The Exorcism of Emily Rose - Preview & US reaction



Preview by: Jack Foley

ONE of the more intriguing horror films to be coming our way over the next few months looks set to be The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a courtroom drama/horror film that is based on a true story.

The events in question relate to the first time the Catholic Church ever granted an exorcism and chronicle the repurcussions of the event.

The ever-reliable Tom Wilkinson plays the Catholic priest who performs the exorcism, only to find himself on trial for homicidal negligence after it fails.

The exorcism was designed to rid a teenage girl, Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter), of demonic possession but instead she dies from assorted wounds and malnutrition.

Assigned to defend the priest is Laura Linney's ambitious Erin Bruner, who is a self-confessed religious sceptic, while lining up against them is Campbell Scott's chief prosecutor, who argues persuasively that Emily was more likely suffering from psychotic epilepsy and could have been saved with hospitalization and medicine.

The ensuing tale plays like a cross between The Exorcist and a taut courtroom drama and is genuinely scary in places (we have already caught a preview and been terrified in all the right places).

Needless to say, the courtroom drama doesn't just focus on the criminal element of the trial, but also the importance of recognizing the limits of rationality and the possibility of a world beyond the visible.

It is sure to provoke some furious debate, as well as having viewers scurrying to find out more about the case of Emily Rose once they have seen it.

The film has already been a box office hit in America (and deservedly so) for it is a superior chiller in a year that has largely been devoid of such things (save for The Descent).

It opens in the UK on November 25.

US reaction

The critical reaction from America to The Exorcism of Emily Rose was oddly mixed, with some slating it and others hailing it as a very good horror film that benefits from its legal spin.

Entertainment Weekly, for instance, described it as 'an intelligent inquiry into the limitations of belief and faith as a defense in a court of law woo-wooed up with a heaping of religious-girl-gone-mad conniption fits'.

While Newsday declared that 'the no-nonsense ferocity of Linney's defense attorney binds this split-personality film, keeping us in the game whenever it threatens to buckle under the combined weight of ambition and silliness'.

But Rolling Stone was more negative stating that 'director and co-writer Scott Derrickson thinks he's not ripping off the 1973 Exorcist, presumably because his effects are too tacky to work up a scare or a convincing case for possession'.

While Arizona Republic declared that 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose is more courtroom drama than horror movie, playing like a rejected TV spinoff -- Law & Order: SSU (Special Satanic Unit)'.

The New York Times was also indifferent, stating: "While not especially good, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, directed by Scott Derrickson, is still a fascinating cultural document in the age of intelligent design."

But Ebert and Roeper were fans, stating: "Very scary stuff. And as a courtroom drama, very effective."

And the Washington Post declared: "There's no green vomit and nobody's head ever rotates a full 360; we stay in the natural world and never enter a movie world, and that makes the movie a lot better."

Another negative view was posted by the New York Post which lamented: "The most frightening thing about The Exorcism of Emily Rose is how three Oscar-nominated actors were talked into working with Scott Dietrickson, writer-director of the direct-to-video Hellraiser: Inferno."

But the San Francisco Chronicle sums up this overview with the verdict: "Emily Rose is the thinking person's demon possession movie."

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