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EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, THE: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
When 19 year old Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) begins to have violent seizures and terrifying visions, she is given medication for epilepsy - but it doesn't help. In desperation, the family, devout Catholics living in a remote farmhouse, call in the local priest, Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson) who recognizes what he believes are signs of demonic possession and sets up an exorcism. Emily's demons refuse to respond and her ultra violent, self harming seizures finally claim her life. Father Moore is charged with negligent homicide, and the Archdiocese assigns the agnostic but able Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) as his defence attorney.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Claiming to be based on a true story (which isn't easy to corroborate, even with the film's production notes), Emily Rose's story poses the ultimate question of science against faith. Belief in demonic possession kinda proves there is a god by inference, and the film's manipulations are intended to drive us to that conclusion. Why else would you cast Laura Linney as the slightly sceptical (agnostic) defence attorney, one of only maybe four female actors with marquee value who could convince us of their professional status and also capture our sympathies the moment they walk on in such a role (the other three being Jodi Foster, Hilary Swank and Frances McDormand). Likewise Tom Wilkinson as the priest, all decency and moral trust.

By contrast, the prosecutor Ethan Thomas is played by Campbell Scott with all the icy aloofness he can muster and a sneering stuffiness that is intended to make us sneer back; his job is to ensure we discount his 'fact' based approach to the case. Emily herself is shown as a pitiable victim, a saint who sacrifices herself so that the world can see that demons do indeed exist - hence so must his opposite.

I won't spoil the ending but it does seem to suggest a hedging of bets by the jury in the trial, and if it really does reference a case (like the 1970s case of one Anneliese Michel in Germany) it shows how inscrutable the subject is. As it was then.

But if we put aside all of the issues about its spiritual objectives (as well as its claim to factual genesis) and take the film as a piece of entertainment without the cloak of earnest discovery, it passes as a diverting blend of horror and courtroom drama. Effective performances and well paced story telling propel the film over some of the speed bumps with familiar devices of the horror genre - like squeaking doors, dreaded sounds and bumps in the night, shrieking sound effects over violent storms and jump cut scenes of demonic possession of a young woman wearing only a nightie.

DVD contains a 3 part documentary on the making of the film, deleted scene with optional director's commentary, extended scenes and audio commentary by director Scott Derrickson.

Published March 23, 2006

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EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, THE: DVD (M)
(US, 2005)

CAST: Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Campbell Scott, Jennifer Carpenter, Colm Feore, Joshua Close, Ken Welsh, Duncan Fraser

PRODUCER: Paul Harris Boardman, Beau Flynn, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Tripp Vinson

DIRECTOR: Scott Derrickson

SCRIPT: Scott Derrickson, Paul Harris Boardman

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tom Stern

EDITOR: Jeff Betancourt

MUSIC: Christopher Young

PRODUCTION DESIGN: David Brisbin

RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 27, 2005

PRESENTATION: Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Extended edition; audio commentary by Scott Derrickson; deleted scen with optional director's commentary; 3 part documentary on the making of the film with cast and crew interviews

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: March 8, 2006







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