Petals Off the Rose (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, 2005)
Inspired by a real life trial from the 1970’s, The Exorcism of Emily Rose tells the story of an exorcism that resulted in the death of the possessed young woman and the priest on trial for her death.
Unlike a lot of Exorcism related films, director Scott Derrickson (making his second appearance this month) makes the heaviest focus the courtroom drama. The exorcism is done more to give us background on Emily and her situation as it pertains to the charges against Father Moore.
He is defended by agnostic lawyer Erin Bruner, who finds herself having to question if she needs to believe in God to provide the defense. Can she accept the idea that Emily’s was a spiritual affliction?
Jennifer Carpenter gives a great performance and was able to contort her body in ways to make the exorcism sequences especially harrowing. Derrickson noted that he abandoned plans for a lot of digital effects because Carpenter was able to do so much herself.
The cast is pretty stellar for a small court room drama horror film. Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson are especially good as Lawyer and defendant.
The resolution seems a little pat, but then, I believe this is how the original trial that inspires the film also resolved itself.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a strong film, with a unique focus for an exorcism film. It is not about the power of evil, but rather the questions of faith and accountability. At the same time, while the questions are asked, Derrickson is not telling you where you must come down on the answers.