Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Review of Exorcism of Emily Rose

In the previous post, I criticized A. O. Scott's review of The Exorcism of Emily Rose. In a more brief post (I hope), I wanted to discuss my thoughts on the movie.

First off, I thought it was an excellent, excellent movie. As even the negative reviews mention, the cast is superb. Tom Wilkinson did an especially good job as the accused priest. In the hands of a lesser actor, there would have been some serious laugh line/over-acting potential for that role.

I also really liked tackling the subject from a courtroom perspective, and I don't think that's just because I'm a lawyer. Some have criticized this move because there's "too much talking" or some such complaint you expect to hear from a kid hooked on "Doom." However, I'm on record as selecting The Exorcist as the best horror movie of all time. This is why it annoys me when the reviews for this movie talk about the lack of head-spinning and vomiting in the new movie. It would have been stupid for the director of Emily Rose to have scenes like that when the original is so well-known and respected. I'm sure then the reviewers would have harped on the movie's lack of originality.

But instead of tapdancing on the grave of a classic, the new movie's setting allowed the director to explore the one weakness of the original: what if you don't believe in possession? I've always thought The Exorcist was very, very scary, but would it have the same effect on an agnostic or atheist? I would think not, and that's where a lot of the interest in the courtroom scenes comes from in the new movie.

An additional plus about setting the movie in the courtroom was that it allowed the director to dole out dollops of escalating fright throughout the movie as the flashbacks explained what did happen to Emily. So instead of maintaining a level of fright through the whole movie, the director was able to charge the audience with regular shocks. I think this heightened the experience.

All in all, I recommend this movie to anyone who likes a good story, has any intellectual curiosity at all (unlike Mr. Scott from the Times), and doesn't mind some disturbing horror scenes.

By the way, I hope you don't wake up at 3am after watching the movie (you'll see).


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