Exorcism of Emily Rose, The (2005)

The Exorcism of Emily Rose
“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is a 2005 supernatural horror film directed by Scott Derrickson and loosely based on the real-life story of Anneliese Michel, a young German woman who underwent an exorcism in the 1970s. The film combines elements of horror, courtroom drama, and psychological thriller, making it a unique entry in the horror genre.


The film revolves around the trial of Father Richard Moore (played by Tom Wilkinson), a Catholic priest who performed an exorcism on a young woman named Emily Rose (played by Jennifer Carpenter). Emily had been experiencing disturbing and supernatural events, and her family believed she was possessed by demons. After Father Moore’s exorcism attempts, Emily died under mysterious circumstances.

The narrative unfolds primarily through flashbacks during the trial, where Erin Bruner (played by Laura Linney), an ambitious defense attorney, is tasked with defending Father Moore against charges of negligent homicide. The prosecution argues that Emily’s death resulted from a lack of proper medical care, while the defense contends that she was indeed possessed and that the exorcism was a necessary spiritual intervention.

Throughout the trial, the film explores both the supernatural and scientific explanations for Emily’s ordeal. It delves into the conflicting beliefs of religion and science, with Father Moore’s defense arguing that there are forces beyond the realm of science at play.


“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” grapples with themes of faith, doubt, and the clash between religion and science. It raises questions about the nature of evil, the existence of demons, and the limits of human understanding. The film doesn’t take a definitive stance on whether the events were genuinely supernatural or if there were rational explanations, leaving the audience to draw their own conclusions.


  • Jennifer Carpenter as Emily Rose
  • Laura Linney as Erin Bruner
  • Tom Wilkinson as Father Richard Moore
  • Campbell Scott as Ethan Thomas
  • Mary Beth Hurt as Judge Brewster
  • Colm Feore as Karl Gunderson


“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics. While some praised its unique blend of genres and thought-provoking themes, others found it less scary than traditional horror films. Despite the division among critics, the film performed well at the box office and gained a dedicated fan base.

The movie’s success contributed to director Scott Derrickson’s reputation in the horror genre. He later went on to direct other notable horror films like “Sinister” and “Doctor Strange.”

Overall, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” remains a memorable entry in the realm of supernatural horror for its willingness to tackle complex themes and its courtroom drama approach to the exorcism narrative.


The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits – Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – September 1, 2007

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