Film

The Castration of Emily Rose

PG-13 and the Impotent Horror Movie

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The Exorcism of Emily Rose
dir. Derrickson
Opens Fri Sept. 2
Various Theaters

When I was a kid, I had terminal insomnia because of a fear of being possessed by the Devil. I'm entirely certain this fear was based on The Exorcist, a movie I'd never seen, but one my parents constantly talked about, referring to it as "a true story" and "the scariest movie ever."

Years later, in high school, I actually saw The Exorcist, then spent four sleepless months in crippling fear of demonic possession. After watching Twin Peaks in college—which features a particularly awful demonic possessor named Bob—I had to sleep on the floor in my housemate's room.

What these anecdotes seek to illustrate is my extreme fear of demonic possession. So while I should have been terrified of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, I wasn't—instead of a horror movie, Emily Rose is basically a manipulatively marketed courtroom drama, and one that ranks well below an episode of Law & Order. All the scary parts were presented in the trailer, and even Emily's demonic voice isn't all that fierce. True, I still covered my eyes when Emily became all convulsive—but not for long.

Basically, Emily's (true, if exaggerated) story has to do with the law—she died directly following an exorcism by her local priest (Tom Wilkinson), after months of what the medical community deemed neglect. Doctors thought Emily was epileptic and psychotic, while her family and priest insisted she was posessed. Since the film focuses on litigation rather than possession, lucky viewers get to see two zealous lawyers (played by Campell Scott and Laura Linney) argue their cases in court for and against the priest's conviction. So instead of crapping your pants with fright, you'll find yourself terminally bored by endless witness testimonies and vehement objections. Oh, and if you don't believe that this movie is crap, simply examine the rating: A neutered PG-13. If anything deserves to be exorcised, it's supposedly scary movies bearing a kid-friendly rating.

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