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The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2006)  rating

Review: written 2008

Intriguing mix of courtroom and chiller

 The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2006)

With such a recent plethora of movies based on torture and gore to achieve their chills, it is refreshing to find a movie that retains some intelligence and still manages to get a few spine-chilling moments, with barely a speck of blood or guts to be seen.

First and foremost, this is a court room drama. And yet there is an interesting twist, because the subject is one based on belief, not on facts.. and it makes for some interesting moral questions. The movie starts at the tail end of events as the priest is taken into custody. A young woman, Emily Rose, has died in his care following an exorcism. Was it neglect on his part keeping her from medical care for a psychotic epilepsy condition, or were his efforts justified and in fact medical intervention nullified the effects of the exorcism? We are led through the events in flashback throughout the course of the trial, sometimes to eery effect, as the priest refuses to cut a deal and insists on telling Emily's story to a jury.

At the centre of the movie is the relationship between Laura Linney's jaded and agnostic defence counsel and her client the priest played by Tom Wilkinson. The two leads play with conviction, but Jennifer Carpenter's physically demanding role of Emily Rose should not be overlooked.

Admirably, the tone is not one of full on shocks and scares - there is a neutrality which gives you space to make your own mind up, and yet allow you to see events as the Father Moore and Emily saw them. It's this intelligence towards the subject which sets this apart from most other recent horror movies and makes this worth watching.

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