The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
The Exorcism of Emily Rose Movie Poster Image
A priest is on trial following a deadly exorcism.
  • PG-13
  • 2005
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 30 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Satan possesses a 19-year-old girl.


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


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


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

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9-year-old Written byray b. February 20, 2018

I didn’t under stand the movie

It was confusing but my mom’s friend was over that
Would not stop talking and I could not hear the movie.
Adult Written byWoofWoofWoofWoof December 27, 2015


Not much blood, I watched it when I was 7 and I'm 10 now. But it will always stay as one of my favorites! To me, It's 5 stars.
Teen, 14 years old Written bySiberHusk March 11, 2019

Some possession scenes which some might find disturbing

I thought this was pretty great. There are multiple possessions and my mom was scared and kept trying to cover my eyes with her hands (I was fine and kept brus... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byisolatedpotato January 24, 2020

Interesting style for a horror movie, definitely not cliche.

I came to watch this movie after watching The Exorcist as well as learning the true story of Anneliese Michel, which was the film is based on. I love how the mo... Continue reading

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?

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?

Talk to your kids 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

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