out of five
Running time: 117
Average thriller that serves up a couple of good scary moments, but is mostly rather cheesy, despite strong performances from Wilkinson and Linney.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose was a surprise box-office hit when it opened in the States, but that’s because the Americans go crazy for this sort of thing. Stick a religious overtone or two in your movie and you’re looking at major box office bucks - just ask Mel Gibson.
Supposedly based on a true story, the film stars Laura Linney as up-and-coming lawyer Erin Bruner, who takes on the defence of Father Richard Moore (Tom Wilkinson) when he’s accused of negligent homicide following the death of a teenaged girl named Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) during an exorcism. The story unfolds in flashback as a series of witnesses take the stand.
To be fair, there are a couple of scary scenes, although if you’ve seen the trailer you’ve already seen most of them. The film’s key scene involves Carpenter contorting her body with a demonic expression on her face and that moment alone is likely to stay with you long after you’ve forgotten the rest of the film.
Both Linney and Wilkinson give performances that are far better than the script deserves. There’s also strong support from both Campbell Scott, as the opposing counsel, and Shohreh Aghdashloo as one of the witnesses.
The main problem with the film is that it’s too reliant on cheesy clichés, especially when the director starts breaking out the flashing lights and spooky noises. It all gets rather silly when it turns out that the Devil isn’t above knocking off the odd key witness or two and even sillier bits involve various demons attempting to freak Laura Linney out.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose is watchable enough but it’s not the scare-fest the trailers would have you believe. Approach with caution.
The Exorcism Of Emily Rose (15)