Film Review: The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Scared the Crap out of Me)

This film scared the bejesus out of me. Not the kind of jumping at shadows scary that fades almost as soon as the movie ends, or at the most the next day, but the deep rooted sort of fear that can wake you up weeks or even years later in the middle of the night and paralyse you in the dark in your bed.


Apparently based (loosely) on the true story of the German case of Anneliese Michel, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a curious mix of horror and court room drama. Laura Innes is the defence lawyer for Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson), the priest accused of negligence resulting in the death of Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter of Dexter). He, like her family, claim she was possessed and died during an exorcism, carried out as per her wishes. The other side argue Emily suffered from a psychological illness and wasn’t cared for properly.

Laura Innes is a sceptic. But Father Moore warns her that believer or not, evil will be watching her now that she is an instrument of good, acting against the dark forces. He also warns her that 3.00am is the typical time for such evil to occur. For whatever reason, that’s the time the barrier between our world and theirs is at its weakest. Sure enough, she starts to wake at 3.00am and senses she is not alone. (Now I am terrified of waking in the middle of the night and glimpsing 3.00am in the alarm clock).

I’m not sure why this film affected me so much. I’ve seen other possession films and never given them a second thought. But Emily Rose freaked me out. I think it’s the idea of something crawling inside my body that terrifies me. In this film, when Emily is possessed, she is not always alone. One horrifying time, she’s in her dorm room with her boyfriend who’s in the same bed as her when the demon enters her body, constricting and distorting her bones. The fact this happened with another person nearby adds to the horror. It seems if a demon is determined to possess your body, surrounding yourself with family and friends will not help you. It can claim you whenever it wants. *Shudders*.

The very fact that exorcisms take place in real life gives me goosebumps. Is possession by demons a real phenomenon? I hope I never find out. ****

Who’s seen this one? Did it scare you as badly as it did me, or am I just a wimp?


About Emma

Buffy fan, avid reader, writer.
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36 Responses to Film Review: The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Scared the Crap out of Me)

  1. Your definitely not a wimp. This one is by far one of the scariest I’ve seen. I do think it has a lot to do with what you believe could or could not happen. A part of me believes this and therefore freaks me out that this might actually happen. Burnt up immortal men with knives for fingers that kill you in your dreams? Not so much.

    • Emma says:

      Thanks, L.J. 🙂 Emotional and psychological films are more frightening than the monster under the bed ones. There’s just something about demons that is deeply disturbing.

  2. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this film. But scary films, even these kind, don’t usually stay with me. It’s probably because I believe demon possession, as well as miracles, ended when the apostles, and all those they imparted the Holy Spirit upon, died. However, sometimes I can get a little uneasy about the subject because there are so many things we don’t know.

    • Emma says:

      Horror films with religious undertones seem to stay with me. I watched Constantine with Keanu Reeves, and it chilled me even though nothing particularly scary happens. The depiction of hell in Constantine frightened me. With Emily Rose, the main character seemed to be targeted by demons because of her deep spiritual faith. Watching her suffer was unpleasant, and the film made me feel uneasy.

  3. Jen Naumann says:

    I haven’t seen this movie in a while (probably not since Dexter came out), but I remember being really freaked out by it. Exorcism movies always make me uneasy.

  4. Indiewritersreview says:

    Ok, now I WILL see this movie…love a good scary movie:) Great review!

  5. Christie Rich says:

    Emma, I am a true wimp that freaks out over the silliest things. That being said, things dealing with spirits and souls are just not something I like to see. It hits deep, like you said. Poltergeist (I can’t remember which one it was) was that way for me. It stayed with me a long time and I avoid anything demonic now, so I didn’t see this one. And now I’m glad I passed, lol.

    • Emma says:

      I remember watching Poltergeist 3 with my sisters when we were kids and being absolutely terrified. “Carolanne, come into the light”. And then the poor child says “it’s so cold there.” I wouldn’t recommend you watch this one alone.

  6. Mae Clair says:

    I can’t watch stuff like this. I like spooky movies but anything that deals with demon possession I avoid like the plague. It would totally freak me out. I can’t even read books about it. Far too scary, probably because I believe it can happen.

    Interesting about 3:00 a.m. I used that in a story years ago, having a character say it was the time of night for ‘ghosts and angels.’ *goosebumps*

    • Emma says:

      I like ghost stories and haunted houses, but demon possession is just freaky. 3.00am is the witching hour, right? Ghosts and angels don’t sound too bad compared to demons from hell, Mae 🙂

  7. I remember watching ‘The Exorcist’ with Linda Blair many moons ago, numerous times, although it was banned here. I barely slept for weeks! That was by far the most terrifying movie I’ve seen to date, and knowing this happens in real life is freaking scary. Just the other day my son called me to watch ‘Paranormal Activity’ and after 5 minutes, I had to change the channel. I wonder if I’d be able to watch this one now… probably not, although if I can find it here, I might give it a try. I think. Probably not! See how jumbled my brain is now?

    Reading your review, which was great, still gave me the shivers. I had to read it just before I head off to bed – for crying out loud! I feel totally unsettled now.

    • Emma says:

      I unfortunately watched The Exorcist for the first time as a teenager at a slumber party where we all roared with laughter. Not how most people react I imagine. I remember hearing that people had to leave the cinema when it was first released because they simply couldn’t sit through it. Lol, I had the same reaction to Paranormal Activity, Sandra, but I sat through it in the end.
      Hope you got some sleep.

      • LOL, Really? I think I was traumatised, but it didn’t stop me from watching. I still haven’t given Paranormal Activity another go, yet. I managed some sleep, but yeah the brain kept seeing all sorts of unsavoury things. *shiver*

  8. fuonlyknew says:

    My biggest scare was The Exorcist. Slept with the light on for years when I was younger. I can handle slashers and monsters, but Satan, demons, and possession terrify me. I’m shivering just thinking about it. What’s funny is I can’t resist watching the movies. Emily Rose was an excellent production and I have it on my DVD shelf.

  9. The Exorcist is the one movie that scared me so badly that I needed a night light and had nightmares for months. Didn’t help that I was maybe 15 at the time and we had just moved into a new house, so every creaking sound I heard was some evil spirit coming for me. Ever since then though, most horror movies just don’t bring out that lasting terror. That being said, I really enjoyed the movies ‘The Innkeepers’ and ‘Sinister’ from this past year, they were great slow building emotionaly terrorizing horror movies without blood and gore and without an excess of cheap jump scares. Okay I got a little shiver thinking about ‘The Innkeepers’ again, maybe that one is still with me.
    I know I saw this movie, but I don’t remember it to well. I’ll check it out again.

    • fuonlyknew says:

      I know what you mean about the creaking. I was about 15 too and living in Michigan. It was winter and the house would snap and boom from the cold. I’d sleep on my back with the covers pulled up to just below my eyes! I have the Innkeepers from Netflix, will have to watch it and Sinister!

    • Emma says:

      Okay, so it seems The Exorcist is pretty popular in the scariest horror film category. I haven’t seen Sinister yet. No one would go see it in the cinema with me 😦 Write up a review on your site, Hubbard.
      I liked The Innkeepers but thought it was very slow moving. 80s ambience was great though.

  10. I watch and read a ton of horror and normally I’m not affected. This movie made me afraid to walk past windows because I was afraid of what I’d see out there. Very scary and I love it.

  11. debsmerry says:

    I remember watching this film and it is definitely one that I would watch again but not on my own no way Emily Rose is a good film imagine being with your man and in bed and the demon entered your body scary or what. Nope I would not watch on my own
    I do like reading your blogs by the way Emma keep it going:)

  12. Don’t laugh… I absolutely refuse to watch scary movies that feature demonic possessions, etc. Hubby laughs at me, but I kind of feel like watching stuff like that gives the devil a foothold into my mind…allowing for the possibility of something like that to happen. 😡

    • Emma says:

      I’m not laughing because I completely understand. In Paranormal Activity, the characters actually talk about how mentioning demons gives them power and invites them in to your life. So maybe we should zip it…

      • I just remember that part in the bible where Saul went to consult a witch instead of God…and he lost his first battle, then eventually his kingdom. Of course David’s story starts shortly thereafter…

  13. beckyday6 says:

    Oooooh! I think this one looks a little too spooky for me. :S

  14. Debra Kristi says:

    I avoid any movie dealing in demon possession. My six-sense starts to tingle and I don’t like it. I will not taunt evil that way. Another thing, ouija boards give me the creeps. I’ve woken up at 3 a.m. on many occasions and I can tell you it leaves an unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach. Even this conversation is giving me shivers.

  15. Pingback: Film Review: Sinister (Thoroughly Freaked Me Out) | Emma's Ramblings on Supernatural Fiction

  16. ajeybkori says:

    After watching this movie(well I have to admit that I did minimized the screen size to very small, at some scenes, specially in the end, so that I can hear the audio only), I thought I am not going to sleep for a while, and later that night at exactly 2:59 AM I got woke up!!!!!! How scary is that, after watching and hearing what happens at 3AM!!!! Completely wet like I was in rain, I prayed to god, and I felt watching this movie was the biggest mistake….I tried to sleep but I couldn’t… Till now I haven’t had a good sleep…Usually I wake up in between 1AM-3AM and after that till 4AM I listen to music with loud output.. What a movie can do in real life, see me once.. I feel like talking about this with some one, but I know people will laugh at me, If I say “I am scared because I watched a movie”!!!! So I found you, thanx for allowing me to say what I felt about this movie, keep the good work, keep posting reviews.. I hope I will recover soon from this phobia….

    • Emma says:

      I hate when I wake up in the middle of the night now – I force myself not to look at the time, because I know if it’s coming up to 3.00am I would freak out. A horror movie has done its job when it manages to freak us out like this.
      Glad I could help. Sweet dreams. 🙂

  17. Georgia says:

    Searching on web to see if it happened to others, I found your post. One year after watching the movie I still woke up during the night exactly at 3 am(How creepy is that?). And your mind affected by fear can play with you so bad that you start hearing things and almost feeling an unknown presence. Then it finally passed. My husband who always makes fun of me as I believe in paranormal things, saw it too, of course after my recommandation. He was alone in another country at that time and pretty bored so this movie was from a long list of what to see. Next day after he saw it, he called me as the movie had the same effect on him. Wasn’t scared at all during watching but he went to sleep and it was 3 am when he woke up. And it continued for months after… One thing is for sure, I will never, ever try to take a glimpse at it.

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