The Exorcism Of Emily Rose (2005)

Filed under: — Darren Seeley on September 17th, 2005 06:09:44 am

While the US advertising focuses more on the horror angle of “The Exorcism Of Emily Rose”, some people may be surprised to find out that it is more of a courtroom drama, with the horror stuff told both in flashback and, it seems the evil forces in question also haunt the principal characters through paranoia and suggestion. I was surprised also, but even more so that both the legal thriller and the horror element works rather well. There is also no clear answer to the questions raised, allowing room for not just a jury, but an audience, to make up thier own minds.

However, I do take some issue with the ‘based on a true story’ part of it, since the story is updated to present day and some of the names have changed so much you expect a flashing ad copy that, under ‘based on a true story’ it would also boast , “ripped from the headlines”. In fact, before the rewrites, this was previously known as ‘The Exorcism Of Anneliese Michel”, and the changes were made, I suppose, as to not set the film in the early seventies. Now, my nitpick is that at the end of the film, the filmmakers tell you what became of the main characters after the events depicted onscreen. The story of ‘Emily Rose’ isn’t true. In the actual event, a teen named Anneliese Michel in Germany, and it was the last time the Catholic Church officially acknowledged a case of demonic possession and sanctioned exorcism rites. Granted, we are in a day where most filmgoers prefer the real deal, and not the filmmakers’ clever manipultions, but for dramatic license, some things have to be changed for various reasons. Still, in reality, Michel’s parents were also put on trial. While I’ll admit the film that is ‘based’ on the story doesn’t creep over into cheap exploitation, and while they are, for the most part respectful of The Church, I could not help but wonder if this film could have been trivialized. Well, as to the end ‘where are they now’ blurbs, writer-director Scott Derrickson has put that blame where it belongs.

While I myself believe in the afterlife, the Holy Trinity and that there are angels and demons out there in the spiritual realm, I can’t swallow some of the demons chasing after lawyers and witnesses after the fact, (i.e the ‘3 AM’ thing) because, it is the ‘Exorcism of Emily Rose’, not ‘The Haunting of Erin Bruner’, laywer at large. It is one thing to keep an open mind, it is quite another to have the paranormal come out of the woodwork to harrass the defense for the accused Priest. And why don’t these shadow demons appear in the courtroom? Both Laura Linney (Bruner) and Tom Wilkinson (Father Moore) give very good performances, and I did like some of the touches in the film that helped thier characters slightly grow. Linney’s Bruner especially, since a plot point is made she and her legal team got an accused killer off a few months prior to the events in the film; during the course of the film, that aquitted killer will kill again before killing himself- and cause a bit of self-doubt on Bruner’s part. Father Moore sticks to not only his story, but pursuades his lawyer to have him tell the tale of what ‘really happened’ to Emily Rose.

There are two sides to the case: the prosecutor, Ethan Thomas (Campbell Scott) goes to medical testimony and that Emily Rose died from lack of treatments relating to possible epilepsy and psychosis, and taking her off her meds, which may or may not have helped her condition. In any case, she was left in the care of her Priest, and she died with several self inflicted wounds, as well as lack of nutrition. The other side strongly suggests that there were six demonic spirits that first haunted, then entered, the teen. A pre-possessed Rose is almost sucked into her bed, and her body contorts, then paralyzes her for a short time. This was the work of evil spirits, who walk among us, so says Father Moore. I liked the idea that they showed this, and then gave a reasonable, logical explanation for ‘strange voices’ or ‘two voices’ coming from Emily Rose. Because of this, the flashback scenes are more scary: if you were to think that demons were ‘allowed’ to come after her (it is suggested that this was part of God’s plan) or want just your fictional horror film, well, you will get what you want, fiction or no fiction.

But as riveting and involving as the picture is, I’m not sure why the filmmakers didn’t give a few extra scenes to Jennifer Carpenter and Emily Rose, the character she protrays. I would have liked to have seen, aside from the defense point of view, the prosecution’s. Yes, I believe there’s a heaven and a hell, and I also believe that there are many people out there suffering from epilepsy and psychosis. In history, it has been speculated that some mentally disturbed patients suffered from such diseases, and some ‘demonic posessions’ were actually tied to epilepsy and/or schizophrenia. I don’t think there was enough of a balance here, because aside from her one happy moment of going to college, all the scenes involving Emily Rose are her being attacked/raped by unseen forces, dark figures in the rain, ugly looking skulls showing up in lightning infested clouds, her classmates’ faces turning into leftovers from ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, and then her body contorts, she rips out her hair, eats spiders, scratches the walls, and commands cats and snakes to get in the way of the exorcism. I’m not saying this isn’t intense and spooky stuff, but what I am saying is that epilepsy and schizophrenia are just as scary and for those who suffer from them, just as terrifying. Yes, you can draw your own conclusions, but those last paragraphs regarding the aftermath of the film, violate any validity the film was attempting to accomplish, since it was based on a true story, and now it isn’t.

The Exorcism Of Emily Rose
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring : Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Jennifer Carpenter, Campbell Scott and Colm Feore.

rating: 8

author picture Darren Seeley (184 posts)
Fave directors include David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Michael Mann, Anique Faqua, Walter Hill, John Carpenter, John Woo and James Cameron. An aspiring screenwriter, I wrote several spec scripts (platform: Final Draft) that I occasionally submit to contests, Inktip, and workshop through peer review sites like Triggerstreet and Zoetrope. I have attended The Austin Film Festival and Heart Of Screenwriters Conference in 2001 and 2002. CoP marks my third go around as an internet film reviewer of sorts. My previous film hub haunts were 'Dark Universe' and, most notably, 'The Projector Booth'. Location: MI,USA.


  • yes Darren I’ll leave it at that too because i’ve had with you being so narrowminded and your arogance! GOD you are soooo superficial! I bet you are the same in real life too and i also bet somebody told you the same thing before.

    Comment by raluca — Fri May 11, 2007 @ 10:54
  • Famous last words anyone? 😉

    Comment by Mariken — Fri May 11, 2007 @ 14:00
  • Since you lost the bet, do I win anything?
    No, I didn’t think so. Damn.

    Comment by Darren Seeley — Fri May 11, 2007 @ 20:39
  • You win getting to feel superior (and rightfully so). That’s gotta be worth something….
    (yes, yes, I know, these last few comments have nothing to do with the film anymore. I’ll stop now!)

    Comment by Mariken — Sun May 13, 2007 @ 20:19
  • Just finished watching it for the 3rd time, I think its a vey clever movie, people always need more, more blood etc, for me it did the trick and got the msg accross. I myself have a weird experiances through nighmares, and this movie made my hair stand up on end, they were done so well, OK I would have to agree that maybe the courtroom scenes could have been shortend but am a huge fan of Laura, so didnt mind, Campell Scott is another story..he wasnt to convincing. my last point, the lighting and use of orange and green, very effective.

    Comment by Kaz — Wed May 16, 2007 @ 16:10
  • Anneliese’s epitaph “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” I have that verse tattooed on my back. I couldnt beleive i saw that on the movie

    Comment by Bradley — Sun June 17, 2007 @ 6:03
  • From wikpedia : Legion Demon

    Legion, also known as the Gadarene demon, or translated as Lots, is a demon found in the Christian Bible in Mark 5:9 and Luke 8:30.

    Comment by TomInPA — Sun July 8, 2007 @ 3:29
  • good movie, however far from reality it is or isn’t. It will get you thinking

    Comment by styler — Sat August 11, 2007 @ 9:51
  • to make a correction , someone above had stated that legion , was one demon … in the bible it clearly states , that the man was possesed with demons ,, plural , not demon , but demons .. and when Jesus spoke to the demons and asked their name , they replied , WE Are Legion , that will tell you , that Legion is not one demon , but just as it is called , Legion , a multitude of demons.

    Comment by Believer — Mon August 13, 2007 @ 15:10
  • Ok , sorry , got to correct myself … here is the actual writing from the Bible

    9. Then Jesus asked him , “What is your name?” “My name is legion ,”he replied, “for we are many .” 10. and he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the Area.
    Mark 5:9-10

    So i take this as Legion is a group of demons with one common leading voice …. its hard to say realy . I think legion is a group of demons ….

    Comment by Believer — Mon August 13, 2007 @ 15:17
  • The names of the 6 demons used in the movie are:

    Comment by michelle — Tue August 21, 2007 @ 17:42
  • I Lie to you not. That movie was scary… Just because it was based on a true story. I liked it though. And Legion is more than one demon. That is why she could have been posessed by more than 6. I remember reading it somewhere in the bible, when Jesus asked the name of the demon, and Legion said, “Legion– for we are many.” That is what Legion means… and I believe in possesions too.

    Comment by Renee — Tue October 16, 2007 @ 17:41
  • Michelle, no no… What annaliese said during the exorcism was:

    I am the one who dwelt in Judas
    I am the one who dwelt in Cain
    I am the one who dwelt in Nero
    I am the one with Belial
    I am the one with Legion
    And I am Lucifer, the spirit in the flesh.

    See? Lucifer, and only him, possessed Annaliese.

    Stop playing demonologists and get it straight.

    Comment by argonnas — Wed November 7, 2007 @ 17:20
  • at the end of priest’s testmony, his lawyer whispered a question to him..he answered ‘no’. If anyone out there has this movie on dvd, can you tell me what she whispered to him?

    Comment by mary brother — Mon November 19, 2007 @ 6:27
  • CAn i get more of Annalise Mitchel.

    Comment by Ahmad — Sat December 15, 2007 @ 9:39
  • What exactly was all the languages?

    Comment by GG. — Sun December 16, 2007 @ 9:38
  • You keep saying “the demons” as if they were Cain, Judas, Nero etc.

    When they were just what dwelt within them.

    Get it right.

    Comment by GoreGlam. — Sun December 16, 2007 @ 9:44
  • I know you all seem quite set on Legion being from the book of Mark and it may well be. However, when Emily is ululating those various names she appears to do it A) in some sort of chronology and there is some consitancy with languges aswell i.e that they are their native tongues or from scriptures, and as I’m pretty sure Mark never ecounted any modern day Germans there would be very little sense in “und mit der Legion” being a reference to Mark 5:9-10. As for the Romanian Legion, Even if they had ties with Hitler, they certainly weren’t as evil or well known as him. In my humble opinion I believe “und mit der Legion” to be a reference to the Third Reich itself. I could be completely wrong, and being a profound atheist who neither believes in possession or deamons or supernatural etc etc, my opinion may be totally worthless. Just food for thought.

    Ta Ta!

    Comment by Ryan — Sun January 13, 2008 @ 18:16
  • Emily wasnt the only one to have an exeocrism that I know of. I have a friend named Chase and while he was at church camp he had an exeorcism and till this day he has one every day. His eyes turn pitch black, his voise deappens, his flesh turns to fire, he mitions names of deamonic spirits, he even triend to kill someone including himself. So demonic possesion is real.

    Comment by ashlee gordon — Tue January 15, 2008 @ 21:51
  • Church Camp! lol

    Comment by Ryan — Thu January 17, 2008 @ 21:01
  • Going back to the question of 11/19/07 by mary brother – is there any way to find out what Father Moore’s attorney whispered to him at the end of his testimony, to which he answered “No” ?

    Comment by Mick — Sun January 27, 2008 @ 21:16
  • Right after i saw the movie..i was both intrigued and terrified. i went home and didnt sleep until after 3 am that same day..and that lasted for about 3 days..which was odd..i did some research on it afterwards..i enjoyed the movie..but i would rather not indulge myself in the REAL occurences of the plot. I am a very religious person..and i believe in anything spiritual. I even researched the six demons, i knew cain, judah, the Legions and Lucifer very well, but Nero and Belial we’re a mystery..and Nero turned out to be quite Evil..*The Beast* was what they called him.

    Comment by Dee — Sun January 27, 2008 @ 22:46
  • Oh and to those who said that they experienced demons bearing them down when they wake up and couldnt all..that happened to me as well..i was once again terrified..i even remembered the time..i think it was at least 2 minutes shy of 3 am that morning..i woke up and i couldnt move..but i could open my eyes..tried to sceam but to no avail..but i did pray..and that worked..and that was a few weeks after i’ve seen the movie.

    Comment by Dee — Sun January 27, 2008 @ 23:20
  • For those who think a demon presses them in sleep when they wake up.
    Its sleep paralysis.

    Comment by Atherr Alam — Sat March 8, 2008 @ 23:06
  • 123456! y not, CNJLBL??? lol just messing hehehehehe and kidding!!!^^ if emily will be saying cnjlbl, the priest might laugh at her! priest wud have replied shit! lol, whats that?

    Comment by pozzy — Sat March 15, 2008 @ 12:22
  • i liked the bet when she ate the spiders and the bit when she was strained will they have a number 2 out?

    Comment by marcus — Mon April 21, 2008 @ 17:01
  • damn pozzy.. i always laugh out loud at ur comments.


    Comment by arwena — Tue August 19, 2008 @ 11:41
  • To those asking about the names of the demons, it doesn’t name them, but it says “The one who DWELT WITHIN Cain” “DWELT WITHIN Nerone” “DWELT WITHIN Iouda [Juda]” “Was WITH Legion” [Meaning only ONE of the many demons that was in the LEGION of demons, called “Legion”] “I AM Belial” “And I, AM Lucifer, the Devil, in the flesh”

    Comment by Kathy — Tue December 29, 2009 @ 6:05
  • I rewatched this the other day and I found my image of Emily Rose was altered because of her part in Dexter… I thought she was less shy compared to my first viewing. Still a pretty unconventional and therefore interesting mixture of drama and horror

    Comment by Arjan Welles — Wed December 30, 2009 @ 3:15
  • Jennifer Carpenter was also a decent screamer in 2008’s ‘Quarantine’, the effective but unneeded remake of REC.

    Comment by Darren J Seeley — Sat January 2, 2010 @ 5:37
  • I thought this movie was very interesting, I am Catholic and believe in this sort of thing. But ever since I watched this movie, I have no clue why but i seem to wake up in the middle of the night between 2:55 and 3:10, every morning. Still not sure if its a coincidence or what is goin on.

    Comment by Troy Lehman — Sun May 2, 2010 @ 18:15
  • these are the phrases she speaks in the movie but i dont know the languages of each

    Ani hu sheshokhen betokh Cain

    Ego sum quis habitavit in Nerone

    Mia fora katoikese mesa se Ioudas

    Ich mit Legion

    Ana Belial

    And I am Lucifer, the devil in the flesh

    Comment by josh — Sun September 19, 2010 @ 5:57
  • Haha I’m surprised no one caught this yet. Everyone has misspelled the name of the second most important demon:
    And then she screams “Ana BLIAL.” though it might be spelled ‘belial’ you don’t pronounce the ‘e’

    Comment by Shade — Sat October 16, 2010 @ 6:24
  • For all of you wondering what language the demon belial was Said in During the movie I know for a fact that it is the Arabic language because I am half Arabic and fluent in it. She says “Ana bleese” Ana means I am and she actually doesn’t say belial I believe because I heard the word bleese which is an Arabic name for a certain demon I’m not sure what his name is in English though.

    Comment by Jazi — Wed October 20, 2010 @ 13:14

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.