Exorcism of Emily Rose on DVD
The concept of being possessed is one of the most frightening ideas
imaginable. An evil force taking control of your body and doing
uncomfortable things to it is not a pleasant thought!
In The Exorcism of Emily Rose (which is loosely based on a Scandinavian
case, but not as “based on a true story” as you would
hope for), a young woman (aptly, and conveniently, named Emily Rose)
dies during an exorcism, and we watch the court proceedings that
Don’t let that fool you, however. This is not simply a courtroom
drama, but a courtroom drama mixed with the story of the poor girl.
Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson) was supposed to care for Emily during
her trying time. After she died during the exorcism, he was charged
with negligent homicide. The prosecutor, Ethan Thomas (Campbell
Scott) is a religious man, doing his best to do his job without
letting his religious views get in the way. Yes, she may have been
possessed, but either way Father Moore is responsible for her death.
On the other hand, Moore hires an agnostic defense attorney, Erin
Burner (Laura Linney), hoping to get a purely unbiased opinion.
Father Moore tells us what he knows of Emily’s
story - the sudden, seemingly random possession, her subsequent
terrifying experiences, and ultimately her demise. Enough time is
spent with her that this feels as much like a horror movie as a
courtroom drama. And what she goes through during her “possession”
is genuinely scary.
The film works well for two reasons. First of all, it merges the
two genres so effectively that it never gets tiring or feels too
long, and showcases the terror of being possessed. Second of all,
despite religion playing such a large part, we’re never told
what to think, which is very refreshing in today’s world.
Even the characters, who have their own beliefs, don’t let
their beliefs run their brains. This is as unbiased and two-sided
as it could be without being a documentary. Many kudos to co-writer/director
Scott Derrickson on that one.
Unfortunately, despite being such a well-made film, it has its
flaws as well. For example, Erin is constantly being awakened by
strange happenings at 3:00 a.m. (the witching hour). This is not
only completely formulaic of horror movies, but completely uncalled
for in this film. However, it’s also a pretty moot complaint
for such an otherwise successful movie.
The part we’re unsure of is the ending. We can’t decide
if it’s simply an easy way out (aka the most effective way
to not offend anybody), or if it’s simply the perfect way
to end the film. Judging from its other strengths, we’re inclined
to think the latter, but we just can’t put our finger on it...
There’s much to love and little to dislike about The Exorcism
of Emily Rose. It’s a very well made movie that really gets
you thinking without telling you what to think. And the possession
is totally freaky, dude!
The film is released on DVD in an unrated version. This is not
the good kind of unrated version, but the kind we’ve seen
way too much of lately. This does not give us additional violence
or nudity (dag nabbit!), but simply wasn’t offered to the
MPAA for a rating. The additional footage is nothing more than extra
courtroom stuff to flesh out the story.
The movie is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation
is quite excellent for the film. By that, we mean that in the dramatic
scenes that are happening “now,” picture quality is
crystal clear with excellent color, detail, and skin tones. The
flashback scenes are much darker and softer, with some details a
little fuzzy and skin tones that take on a more washed-out look.
While upon explanation this may sound horrible, it’s exactly
how the filmmakers wanted it (we can speculate), and it works extremely
The audio is in Dolby Digital 5.1, and also varies according to
scene. The slow, dramatic parts use the front speakers primarily,
with a hard, full sound. The horror bits immerse you in the scene,
with creepy noises coming at you from all directions.
Director Scott Derrickson provides a very good audio commentary.
He delves into details about set design, casting, why he didn’t
take the “a film by...” credit, and even some of his
influences. He’s an intelligent speaker who doesn’t
drone on or condescend. “Genesis of the Story” is a
twenty-minute featurette that discusses how Derrickson and writing
partner Paul Harris Boardman came aboard the project. “Casting”
and “Visual Design” are shorter, more self-explanatory
featurettes that are still moderately interesting. Finally, the
deleted scene would have seriously detracted from the film, we think,
and was very rightfully chopped.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
122 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby
Starring Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Campbell Scott, Colm Feore,
Jennifer Carpenter, Mary Beth Hurt with Henry Czerny and Shohreh
Produced by Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi
Written by Paul Harris Boardman & Scott Derrickson, directed
by Scott Derrickson
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