Movies You Aught Not Watch is Nick Rogers’ weekly, alphabetical look back at the 52 worst films of 2000 to 2009.
The film equivalent of a doctoral thesis, 2005’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose sought to combine John Grisham’s convoluted legalese with Dean R. Koontz’s faith-oriented spooks.
Both authors’ pulpy jolts are expelled, though, from the body of this retro-horror wannabe that examines, in a courtroom setting, the aftermath of an exorcism.
The best to be said of the usually excellent Laura Linney is that she boasts her best onscreen tan since Congo as a junior-partner defense attorney taking on the touchy, tricky case of a fallen priest (Tom Wilkinson). He’s on trial for negligent homicide in the death of the title character, a college student allegedly possessed by the devil who died after an arduous, unsuccessful exorcism.
Interminable courtroom scenes are meant to be taken with dead seriousness, but there are no fireworks, only bloated banality.
Numerous attempts to generate a fuzzy Christian feel also ring false. It’s hard to feel Emily’s spiritual struggle when we see her as normal for all of maybe 30 seconds before she becomes a vehicle for gore and effects.
There are fine actors here, as in The Exorcist, but that boasted in-your-face provocation where Emily Rose is bumbling and pedestrian. In fact, about all Emily does differently from Regan is not suggest what the good father’s mother might do in hell. This is, after all, a PG-13 movie.
Perhaps that’s why director Scott Derrickson attempts to attach scary atmosphere to everyday objects like turkey, pie and pigeons. Oh, the horror of … of … pie?