The Exorcism of Emily Rose

 
(i)

 

A priest is on trial following a deadly exorcism.
  • Review Date: December 19, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 113 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Satan possesses a 19-year-old girl.

Violence

Some fighting when Emily is possessed, her body undergoes repeated contortions and abuses.

Sex

Some twisty body images during possession, not specifically sexual, but alarming.

Language

Anxious uses of "God," "hell," and "son of a bitch."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The lawyers (including Erin) meet several times in a bar, where we see drinking (Erin especially) and smoking; Emily is put on medication.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the movie, despite its PG-13 rating, includes gruesome imagery, sound effects, and especially explicit references to demonic possession, animalistic behavior, self-inflicted violence, and of course, questions concerning religious faith and skepticism. The material is somewhat complex, in other words, and may be troubling and even harrowing for younger viewers. The film opens with screams on a black screen, indicating her death, then cuts to her family's reactions, inside their farmhouse; it goes on to show still shots of the dead girl (emaciated, bruised, and wounded), scary scenes of her possession (body contorted, guttural sounds and screaming, fast cuts and dark rain/shadows), and standard horror movie scenes of characters walking down dark hallways, running in the rain, hearing sounds and seeing shadows, and seeing their clocks all show 3am (a witching hour explained in the film). A character is violently struck and killed by a car, characters drink, smoke, and use occasional, mild, harsh language.

What's the story?

Reportedly based on the actual case that inspired The Exorcist, THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE begins with the death of a possessed college student, Emily (a very convincing Jennifer Carpenter) and the trial of the priest who attempted an exorcism, Father Richard Moore (Tom Wilkinson). Charged with negligent homicide, he's defended by non-believer lawyer Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) and prosecuted by devout Christian (though not Catholic) Ethan Thomas (Campbell Scott in a stuffy-looking mustache). The film proceeds by flashbacks to show Emily's idyllic rural home life, her move to a college campus that always looks dark and rainy, and her sudden first encounter with the devil one night.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Despite its title and pile-up of such spectacular images, Exorcism is actually less about the exorcism than about how to interpret what happens to Emily. While the movie plainly shows her possessed, doubts arise in legal, social, and "scientific" explanations (is she anorexic, psychotic, in need of medication?). Cutting among the courtroom scenes (the wondrous Shohreh Aghdashloo makes a brief appearance as a scientist who defends the exorcism), Erin's own lonely encounters with demons (or sinister shadows and noises at her home, at least), and Emily's rapidly escalating symptoms (including speaking in multiple voices, eating bugs, starving, and abusing herself and others physically), the film makes Father Moore's case, that even if you don't believe (like Erin), demons exist. And they'll plague you just to make that point.

Demonstrating their existence appears to be Father Moore's focus as well. He insists, against Erin's advice, that he testify. "What matters most is that I tell Emily's story," he says, having heard her version of a vision whereby she learns her suffering and example are God's will. While the Archdiocese and scientific and legal communities are trying to explain the event, Emily's "story" is that the explanation is a function of faith. She's chosen. The most compelling question arising from Scott (Hellraiser: Inferno) Derrickson's revisitation of the story has to do with audience and timing. Why now? What's at stake for current audiences, not only in Emily's ordeal, but in the arguments around it? And what sort of refitting makes it suitable for a PG-13 rating, aside from the omission of Linda Blair's green-pea soup vomit and Mercedes McCambridge's obscenities in the William Friedkin version?

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the film's opposition of faith and science in the question of Emily's death. How does each approach fall short of explaining what has happened to her while also providing reassuring structure/resolution for those espousing these views? What is the effect of representing the case as a courtroom drama? How do Emily's visions or dreams become code for what's "real" and also for possible hallucination? How does the film combine subjective and so-called objective accounts of the events? How is Emily's family portrayed, as subordinate characters to the lawyers?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 9, 2005
DVD release date:December 20, 2005
Cast:Campbell Scott, Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson
Director:Scott Derrickson
Studio:Sony Pictures
Genre:Horror
Run time:113 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:thematic material, including intense/frightening sequences and disturbing images

This review of The Exorcism of Emily Rose was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Trendsetting shocker about a possessed child.
  • Tired dud of an over-the top violent action movie.
  • Visuals and attitude -- not for kids.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 14 years old Written byBlood Wolf June 29, 2014
 

Awesome!

This movie didn't really have any jump scares. The film mostly contained a little bit of blood and A LOT of screaming from Emily being possessed, the film was intense and exciting to watch. Its not that scary, Im a really scaredy cat when it comes to horror movies but I enjoyed this one and I would love to watch it again. If you love lots of jump scares and really gruesome scenes then you might find it a bit boring but you should watch it and of course its based on a true movie which makes it even better, this movie also gave me a lot of chills and I felt weird afterwards and I'll admit I was alittle scared of going to bed but it was worth watching. I recommend this for teens 13 or over
Teen, 15 years old Written byEvan182 March 21, 2010
 

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

If you can handle horror movies. Well, most likely you can handle this. It's not nearly as scary as people say it is. It's also a very good movie. Not much to say about this.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 12 year old Written bylittleone522 April 3, 2011
 

Good for 13+

If your looking for a clean scary movie, this would be the one. Surprisingly enough there is only two bad words used in the whole movie; one use of sh*t and one use of b*tch. There is also no sex, which is rare in a horror film.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass