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The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Genre: Drama/Horror
Rated: R
Directed by
: Scott Derrickson
Released by: Screen Gems/Columbia

In Short: There’s nothing terrifying about this unconvincing horror film based very loosely on a true story of exorcism-gone-wrong.

The Devil Made Her Do It
Poor "Emily Rose" Can't Scare a Fly
By Jenny Peters

Last time we checked, horror movies about exorcism were supposed to be terrifying. This fundamental fact is lost on Scott Derrickson, the director of "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," who has made an overblown episode of "Law and Order" instead. Perhaps it would help to be a believer in Catholicism to embrace this turgid tale, but being of that religious persuasion sure wasn't needed while watching "The Exorcist," now was it?

Laura Linney stars as Erin Bruner, a high-powered lawyer hired by the Catholic Church to represent Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson), a priest arrested for the death of a 19-year-old girl named Emily Rose. We soon see in flashbacks framed around the courtroom testimony that poor Emily was possessed by demons while alone in her college dorm room, never recovering from the ordeal and ultimately dying a strange and horrible death after an attempted exorcism.

The film purports to be based on a true story (although Linney admitted to reporters recently that her character is "completely fictionalized"), and apparently the filmmakers think that Emily Rose deserves to be sainted by the Catholic Church for her personal fight against the devil. But this slow, boring movie isn't going to sway many viewers to that idea. There's no real reason to believe that her possession was real, and certainly no fear evoked in the cheesy door slamming, shaky camera work, and 3 a.m. mysterious wake-ups that are supposed to frighten us. Even Emily's screaming and contortions just make her seem nuts, not inhabited by the devil. Add in that there is not one single terrifying moment in this ponderous and self-important drama, and the final result is a horror movie without any juice.

The saddest thing about this dull exorcism is the waste of good actors on such dreck. Apparently just because you get an Academy Award nomination (Wilkinson and Aghdashloo each have one while Linney has two), that doesn't mean you always make intelligent choices when it comes to choosing scripts. Maybe they'll all have better luck next time?

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