It’s a mystery to me as to why actors Laura Linney (P.S.) and Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins) would take on this film. They have a solid body of work behind them, and presumably are at the stage where they can pick and choose jobs, yet they are in this tired and substandard thriller.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose is primarily a courtroom drama, in the sense that we learn of events the same time the jury do, in regular flashbacks. There are some interesting moments when we see the same moments from different perspectives, but this film doesn’t really sit on the fence at all with regards to the ‘truth’ of Emily’s demise. The filmmakers seem intent upon using every legal drama cliché in the book: the smarmy opposing counsel, the defence lawyer who has trouble reconciling if the person they’re defending is truly guilty, and the heartfelt and powerful summation by both parties. It’s all been seen before, and quite frankly I had no wish to see it again.
With regards to the horror moments, it’s a little hard to say that they too are clichéd, since there aren’t that many exorcism movies, but suffice to say there is nothing new here. There are lots of extremely loud noises, and creepy goings on, all amidst unrelenting dark shadows (as opposed to ‘light shadows’, which are pale imitations of their brooding cousins, and have been known to partake in the occasional game of beach volleyball before and after midday). I have to admit I was scared at times, searching every dark corner for the ‘thing’ that I was sure was about to leap out, but I didn’t feel the film deserved my fear. There’s nothing clever or inventive on offer.
Director and co-writer Scott Derrickson (who previously wrote the unnecessary sequel Urban Legends: Final Cut) has been lucky enough to work with some gifted actors, especially Jennifer Carpenter (White Chicks) in the titular role. Carpenter manages some fantastically macabre convulsions and wild takes, and certainly is the standout performer in the film.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a supreme waste of talent, and as each very clichéd and predictable scene played out I wished I was somewhere else.Rating: