The Exorcism of Emily Rose – USA, 2005 – reviews

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‘Based on a true story’

The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a 2005 American legal drama horror feature film directed by Scott Derrickson (Deliver Us from Evil; Sinister; Hellraiser: Inferno) from a screenplay co-written with Paul Harris Boardman (Deliver Us from Evil; Urban Legends: Final Cut).

The film is loosely based on the story of Anneliese Michel and follows a self-proclaimed agnostic who acts as defense counsel (Linney) representing a parish priest (Wilkinson), accused by the state of negligent homicide after he performed an exorcism.

The film’s budget was $19.3 million and it took $144.2 million at the box office.


Main cast:

Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Campbell Scott, Colm Feore, Jennifer Carpenter, Mary Beth Hurt, Henry Czerny, Shohreh Aghdashloo.


A 19-year-old girl named Emily Rose dies, attributed to self-inflicted wounds and malnutrition. After news of it spreads across town, a Catholic priest named Father Richard Moore is arrested and sent to court. The archdiocese wishes for Father Moore to plead guilty, in order for publicity of the incident to be minimized. A lawyer named Erin Bruner is provided to Father Moore to negotiate a plea deal, but Father Moore insists on pleading not guilty. Bruner takes the case, believing it will elevate her to senior partner at her law firm. Father Moore agrees to let her defend him only if he is allowed to tell Emily’s story.

The trial begins with the calling of several medical experts by the prosecutor Ethan Thomas, and Judge Brewster presiding. One expert testifies that Emily was suffering from both epilepsy and psychosis. The defense contests that she may have actually been possessed but Bruner explains that Emily was suffering from something that neither medicine nor psychology could explain, and that Father Moore as well as her family realized this and tried to help in another way…


Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Somehow the movie really never takes off into the riveting fascination we expect in the opening scenes. Maybe it cannot; maybe it is too faithful to the issues it raises to exploit them. A movie like The Exorcist is a better film because it’s a more limited one, which accepts demons and exorcists lock, stock and barrel, as its starting point. Certainly they’re good showbiz.”

” …high-octane schlock that occasionally works your nerves, thanks to a committed performance from Jennifer Carpenter as Emily herself. Though it attempts to sell itself as a debate between law and religion, it’s clear from the first shot of Em growling Latin which side we are supposed to root for. A classy “boo!” movie for those who like their horror polite.” Paul Arendt, BBC


“It’s all generic stuff, though the dialogue is well handled by the cast and the arguments are laid out in an accessible way. (Sometimes too accessibly, with Erin repeatedly saying, “By that, you mean…”) It’s the juxtaposition of that part of the screenplay with the horror material that gives pic its special tension and flavor.” Derek Elley, Variety

” …the film finds a way to justify its existence despite the inevitable comparisons to the classic in whose shadow it will inevitably stand, and it actually manages to work on a level very similar to The Exorcist, without being slavishly imitative. In fact, it is far more faithful to the spirit of that film than most of the Exorcist sequels have been.” Steve Biodrowski, Cinefantastique

Cast and characters:

  • Laura Linney as Erin Christine Bruner
  • Tom Wilkinson as Father Richard Moore
  • Campbell Scott as Ethan Thomas
  • Jennifer Carpenter as Emily Rose
  • Colm Feore as Karl Gunderson
  • Joshua Close as Jason
  • Kenneth Welsh as Doctor Mueller
  • Duncan Fraser as Doctor Cartwright
  • J. R. Bourne as Ray
  • Mary Beth Hurt as Judge Brewster
  • Henry Czerny as Doctor Briggs
  • Shohreh Aghdashloo as Doctor Sadira Adani

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MOVIES and MANIA provides an independent aggregated range of previews, opinions and reviews from a wide variety of credited sources, plus our own reviews, in one handy web location. We rely solely on the very minor income generated by affiliate links and internet ads to stay online and expand. Please support us by not blocking ads on our site. Thank you.  

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