The Exorcism of Emily Rose

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The Exorcism of Emily Rose
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Scott Derrickson
Produced by Tom Rosenberg
Gary Lucchesi
Paul Harris Boardman
Tripp Vinson
Beau Flynn
Written by Scott Derrickson
Paul Harris Boardman
Starring Laura Linney
Tom Wilkinson
Campbell Scott
Colm Feore
Jennifer Carpenter
Mary Beth Hurt
Henry Czerny
Shohreh Aghdashloo
Music by Christopher Young
Cinematography Tom Stern
Edited by Jeff Betancourt
Distributed by Screen Gems
Release dates
  • September 9, 2005 (2005-09-09)
Running time
119 minutes
Country United States
Language English, Aramaic
Budget $19.3 million
Box office $144.2 million

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (marketed as The Exorcism of Emily Rose-Bognot in some Asian countries) is a 2005 American courtroom drama horror film directed by Scott Derrickson and starring Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson. The film is loosely based on the story of Anneliese Michel and follows a self-proclaimed agnostic who acts as defense counsel (Linney) representing a parish priest (Wilkinson), accused by the state of negligent homicide after he performed an exorcism. The film, which largely takes place in a courtroom, depicts the events leading up to and including the exorcism through flashbacks.


After the death of a 19-year-old girl named Emily Rose, the cause of which was self-inflicted wounds and malnutrition, a priest named Richard Moore is charged with negligent homicide. The archdiocese wishes for Fr Moore to plead guilty, so that the incident can be covered up. A lawyer named Erin Bruner is hired to help Fr Moore negotiate a plea deal, but Fr Moore insists on pleading innocent. At the trial, the prosecutor Ethan Thomas asks for the expert opinion of two doctors, who agree that Ms Rose was possessed by an invisible creature. A few days later, she suffered from a seizure and was admitted to the hospital, during which the demons attacked again and infested her.

During the next several weeks, she suffered from hallucinations where people's faces around her would turn into monster faces. She would lose control of her movements and be jerked around involuntarily, and would scream at random moments and refuse to eat. In response, her boyfriend brought her home to her family. Periods of time soon followed where Ms Rose would be un-able to speak, and would eat spiders, damage the house, and cause mutilations to herself. Two people were then brought in to help, Fr Moore and one of his parishioners, Dr Cartwright.

Fr Moore receives permission from the bishop to do an exorcism, but it ends in failure. Ms Rose breaks her restraints using superhuman strength, jumps out the window, commands cats and snakes to attack the people involved, and screams in Aramaic, German, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. Before she faints, she reveals that she is possessed by six demons: Cain, Nero, Judas, Legion, Belial, and Lucifer.[1] Later, according to a last letter she wrote, she was visited by the Virgin Mary, who explained that the demons will never leave. Ms Rose declines the Virgin Mary's offer of immediate death, and accepts her suggestion to suffer further so that the world can believe in demon existence.

During the days of the trial, Ms Bruner runs into supernatural events such as suddenly waking up at 3 AM, seeing objects being moved, and smelling the fragrance of something burning, things which Fr Moore and Ms Rose had also encountered. Dr Cartwright, who should have been a key witness, dies in a car accident after being too afraid to testify. The jury remains skeptical but Ms Bruner manages to evoke some sympathy. In the end, they find Fr Moore guilty, but give him no prison time except the time he already served waiting in jail.



The screenplay was written by director Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman; in honor of the contributions of Boardman and other collaborators on the film, Derrickson chose to forgo the traditional "film by" credit. According to Derrickson's DVD commentary, he chose Boardman as his co-writer because Derrickson sees himself as a believer and Boardman as a skeptic, and believed the pairing would provide the screenplay with two different perspectives, thus providing the film some ambiguity as to whether it supports a religious/supernatural interpretation of the events depicted, or a more secular/medical interpretation.

The character of Emily Rose was inspired by the story of Anneliese Michel, a young German Catholic woman who died in 1976 after unsuccessful attempts to perform an exorcism upon her with psychotropic drugs. The court accepted the version according to which she was epileptic, refusing to accept the idea of supernatural involvement in this case. Two priests involved in the exorcism, as well as her parents, were found guilty of manslaughter resulting from negligence and received prison time (which was suspended), generating controversy. Michel's grave has become a place of pilgrimage for many Catholics who believe she atoned for wayward priests and sinful youth, and honor her as an unofficial saint.[2] The film is based on Felicitas Goodman's book The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel.[citation needed]

German director Hans-Christian Schmid launched his own treatment of Michel's story, Requiem, around the same time in late 2006.


As of April 2012, The Exorcism of Emily Rose had made $144,216,468 worldwide.[3] In 2006, the Chicago Film Critics Association listed the film in their Top 100 Scariest Films Ever Made at #86.[4] Jennifer Carpenter, whose "demonic" bodily contortions were often achieved without the aid of visual effects, won "Best Frightened Performance" at the MTV Movie Awards in 2006;[5] however, according to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, critical reception to the film was overall mixed.[6] As emphasized by Roger Ebert, who described The Exorcism of Emily Rose as "intriguing and perplexing", the film "asks a secular institution, the court, to decide a question that hinges on matters the court cannot have an opinion on".[7] Ebert noted that "the screenplay is intelligent and open to occasional refreshing wit".[7] Paul Arendt from BBC outlined that "the flashback story... is high-octane schlock that occasionally works your nerves, thanks to a committed performance from Jennifer Carpenter".[8]

The general consensus between 150 critics was that "[the film] mixes compelling courtroom drama with generally gore-free scares in a ho-hum take on demonic cinema." It holds a 45% 'rotten' approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 150 reviews. On Metacritic, it has an overall score of 46 out of 100, based on 32 reviews.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ To clarify, the first four demons aren't given by name. Rather, the first one is denoted as a demon who possessed Cain, back when Cain was alive. The second one was a possessor of the Roman emperor Nero, and so on.
  2. ^ What in God's Name?!
  3. ^ The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b Roger Ebert (September 8, 2005). "The Exorcism of Emily Rose". Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  8. ^ Paul Arendt. "The Exorcism Of Emily Rose (2005)". BBC. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  9. ^

External links[edit]