The problem with The Exorcism of Emily Rose is apparent. It’s based on a true story, yet changes so much, it shouldn’t even be considered truthful. While this is an engaging, well-directed courtroom drama, the lack of authenticity and ending can’t keep this together.
The tale of Emily Rose deals with a priest who attempted an exorcism on a young girl, only to end up on trial blamed for her murder. Director and co-writer Scott Derrickson has dealt with the supernatural/religious topics in the past making him a good fit. Unfortunately, his apparent feelings and beliefs end up making this story illogical, if not incredibly forced in terms of pushing those beliefs.
You’ll more than likely immediately know where you stand in the trial before it even starts. It comes to down to personal ideals, regardless of how Laura Linney’s character spells it out to a jury. The film becomes a mix of a solid courtroom drama and horror, certainly a unique pairing. However, the horror sequences rarely feel needed, as the actors portray the events in their own words better than many of the inserted exorcism scenes.
The true story not only put the priest on trial, but the parents as well. It’s all too obvious that the parents in this Hollywood retelling should have also been on trial, yet here they sit on the sidelines watching the events unfold. It’s a nagging issue and in all honesty a plot hole caused by not sticking to the story. Changes feel inserted purely to avoid telling the truth, which hardly ended as happily as it does here.
Emily Rose is a fine movie. Acted and directed well, the film pulls you into its drama before becoming too preachy and forceful. Horror scenes feel over done given the realistic nature of the court proceedings, though do offer some true creep out moments. As a movie on its own, it would have been fine. Trying to tie it into a true story ruined it.
A mundane, flat transfer greets viewers immediately after putting in this disc, and it rarely gets any better. Inconsistent in almost every way, this is a disappointment. Detail can be wonderfully clear, and other times blotched out by softness. Black levels waver from superb to completely inadequate. Flesh tones are rarely accurate, usually settling on an orange or pink. On the plus side, contrast is excellent and never overdone, and while everything is calibrated properly, it truly delivers. Sadly, those scenes are few and far between.
Thankfully, when called on, this TrueHD mix is wonderful. The surrounds provide some wonderful jumps and scares. The LFE is active, throbbing, and downright eerie when mixed with the visuals. Rain pours throughout the soundfield, and thunder is handled with a satisfying rumble. That said, the closed courtroom has nothing to offer, and dialogue is mixed far too low when compared to the supernatural sequences (likely to try and amp up the scares).
This disc contains the unrated cut of the film only, and a solo commentary from Derrickson explains the few differences. There’s nothing here that would have pushed the movie over a PG-13. Three featurettes are included, started with Genesis of the Story, with the crew discussing why they took the project and how it came out in the end. It’s the longest of the three at short of 20 minutes.
Casting the Movie is self-explanatory, and Visual Design looks at the sets and colors chosen to set the mood. A single deleted scene deals with an encounter between Laura Linney’s character and a man that goes nowhere, while offering a commentary as to why it was obviously cut. Note that the case lists BD-Live is supported, but nothing is included on the disc.