Th Exorcism of Emily Rose (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Let’s face it; if you’re going to make a movie about an exorcism then you have to live up to the gold standard set by “The Exorcist”. Linda Blair was the perfect choice for the “girl next door” who became possessed by a demon and the movie documents (in graphic fashion) the process of the exorcism. “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” goes on the assumption that you’ve seen “The Exorcist” so they don’t really go into the details of what one (an exorcism) entails. Rather, the movie is more of a courtroom drama with flashbacks to Emily (Jennifer Carpenter) as she goes from innocent college freshman to someone possessed by the devil. What I didn’t know is that this was based on a true story – probably the reason why so much is set in a courtroom.

A cynical lawyer (Laura Linney) wants her name on the door of her law firm. A case has come up that, if won, could provide her the necessary name recognition that would justify her name on the coveted door. She takes the case which is a murder case of sorts. It seems that Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson) has been accused of the murder of Emily Rose because he denied her medical assistance. It was the position of the family and Emily herself that she was possessed by the devil and that an exorcism was the cure she needed and not drugs. As the case drags on we see Emily’s transgression from a college schoolgirl to someone haunted by the demons (literally) inside her. Erin Bruner (Linney) also begins to undergo some changes as the case seems to have real-life consequences for her.

The movie has some scary moments, but it’s more about morals and tackles the age old question of religion vs. science. Father Moore was accused of murder, but was he responsible for her death the same he would have been celebrated if she had been exorcised? Campbell Scott plays the straight-laced lawyer Ethan Thomas, the yin to Linney’s yang. While I think “The Exorcist” is a much better and more accurate movie, there’s something to be said for this movie. The fact that Emily’s grave has already become some sort of shrine to people worldwide suggests that there was perhaps something more going on. A good performance by Jennifer Carpenter and a great ensemble cast make “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” certainly watch able, but it’s not for the feign of heart.

Video: How does it look?

“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is shown in a great-looking 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer. I remember watching the standard DVD a few years back and though a majority of the film has very muted tones, this Blu-ray version seems to spice things up a bit. The film has a more glossy look and feel to it and the softness that plagued the earlier version seems to be drastically improved. The courtroom scenes (which make up a majority of the movie) aren’t the glamorized, polished type but rather a rather dull, dimly-lit courtroom – giving it a more realistic look and feel. On the whole, this is a marked improvement over the standard DVD, which is good news for sure.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack has been replaced by an uncompressed Dolby TrueHD track. It’s very active at times, mainly when we see Emily go through the various stages of her possession. It’s that typical “horror-like” type of sudden sound that’s meant to startle the audience (and it does) though they overuse it and it becomes predictable. Dialogue is clear as well. The surrounds are active during a majority of the movie adding ambiance ranging everything from wind to thunderstorms. The subwoofer doesn’t kick in much, but I caught it rumbling a few times. A good soundtrack here, which is what we’d expect.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The standard DVD was available in both rated and unrated versions though this Blu-ray is the unrated version. We start off with a commentary track by Director Scott Derrickson. Derrickson is very straight-forward in his comments and wanted to preserve the integrity of the story. He was more concerned with telling the story rather than trying to remake “The Exorcist”. There is a deleted scene (possibly the one that was used in the Unrated cut, for all I know) and a trio of featurettes: “Genesis of the Story”, “Casting the Film” and a “Visual Design” featurette. I found the Casting to be interesting because all it took was Laura Linney’s suggestion and then Jennifer Carpenter had the part. That’s Hollywood for you. “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is an entertaining movie in the vein of “The Exorcist”, with above average audio and video scores as well as a decent amount of supplements, this might be a worthy addition to your collection. Fans of the television show “Dexter” might also take note as this was Jennifer Carpenter’s preamble to that show.

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