Law and Order meets The Exorcist. Two completely different worlds of ideals clash when a priest is accused of a young girl's death. In The Exorcism of Emily Rose, director, Scott Derrikson combines a classic horror flick with modern politics. With a majority of the film taking place in a bleak courtroom, the story takes on the form of a dramatic debate rather than a scream-inducing thriller.
The previews for The Exorcism of Emily Rose present only scenes which deceive viewers into thinking that it is a horror flick that will satisfy cravings for a good scream. Thrill-seeking movie-goers will find themselves disappointed when the big screen saturates itself with lawyers and arguments instead of the anticipated demonic faces and terror-stricken cries. The terrifying scenes which audience members seek, are few and far in between, as it takes a backseat to the courtroom drama.
19-year old Emily Rose, played by Jennifer Carpenter, was a normal, happy girl until she left home to pursue her dreams at a university. At the university, Emily underwent a horrific transformation as both her physical and mental health deteriorated to a terrifyingly incurable condition. When her prescribed medications seemed to be of no avail, her family turned to their priest, Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson), for a faith-based treatment. Believing that Emily's experience was caused by a demonic possession, Father Moore proceeded to perform an exorcism that turned out to be unsuccessful. Within days of this ritual, Emily died, and Father Moore is charged with negligent homicide.
In a courtroom battle between science and religion, Erin Bruner and Ethan Thomas, played by Laura Linney and Campbell Scott respectively, both put forth persuasive argument for their cases. On the prosecutor side, Ethan Thomas contends that Emily's startling state can be explained by science, that her sporadic and gruesome bodily contortions are merely epileptic seizures, and her visions of demonic creatures are hallucinogenic symptoms of psychosis. Defending Father Moore, Erin Bruner argues that the medicine was actually worsening Emily's condition, and that her strange behavior was actually due to a demonic possession.
The frequent transitions between the courtroom and flashbacks of Emily Rose mimic the debate between fact and faith. In today's world of advanced scientific research, most people are skeptical towards notions of spiritual and celestials beings coinciding with our human world. This supposedly true story of Emily Rose simply asks us to have faith, to keep our minds open to possibilities that exist outside of sheer facts, because sometimes, we will encounter situations which cannot be fully explained by science. Even if one is not a follower of the Catholic Church, which Emily Rose and Father Moore belonged, can one really acknowledge only the scientific facts, and not have faith in the good intentions of Father Moore, a man who devoted his life to heavenly deeds? Perhaps movie-goers will not leave the theater with their cravings of a good scare satisfied, but more than likely, they will leave with a renewed sense of belief, or disbelief as their long-standing faith in scientific facts had just been persuasively challenged by the frightful and inspiring story of young Emily Rose.