The Exorcism of Emily Rose

[Keep in mind, this movie is based on true events.]

One of the biggest hits of the year 2005 was a small, unknown movie called The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Scary movies excite me, and so I waited with bated breath for this movie to release. The Exorcist (1977) is one of my all time favorite horror movies, and I stayed away from drawing comparison between these two movies.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose stars Laura Linney as Erin Bruner and Tom Wilkinson as Father Moore, and Jennifer Carpenter as Emily herself. Father Moore is accused of negligence of Emily’s health resulting in her death while performing the exorcism. Erin is called in to be Father Moore’s lawyer to defend him from the “people” who are prosecuting him. Thus begins the case trial, through which we get to hear about Emily Rose’ story, her possession and the eventual exorcism leading to her death.

The major attraction of this movie is that it is based on a true story; hence the reality of it strikes a chord in your heart. The prosecution teams argues that Emily Rose was not possessed but in fact afflicted with epileptic-psychotic disorder which made her see hallucinations, use dual voice from her vocal chords, manipulate her body, dilate her pupils so they turn black and so on. They argue that there is no such thing as demonic possession, and that Rose’s condition can all be explained through scientific reasoning and facts. However, Erin on the other hand, defends Father Moore by bringing in the supernatural arguments, making a case for possession as believed in by millions, perhaps billions of people. She even brings in an anthropologist as a witness, who explains that there are some people who are born “hyper-sensitive,” which allows them to experience connections with the supernatural. (At this point of the movie, I could only think about my cousin who told me how he would see jinns from his bedroom window.)

Erin herself is an agnostic whose views are changed as she comes to deal with the supernatural powers that are working against her. This movie is more about the trial, while we see Emily Rose’s story in flashback.

All the actors have given restrained and credible performances, and newcomer Carpenter as Rose is particularly terrifying as she conveys her descent into being possessed. I immensely enjoyed watching this movie, because it attempted to show demonic possession and exorcism from both the supernatural point of view and the scientific world’ point of view. Can we justify a person who one may claim to be demonically possessed in scientific terms? Just like in The Exorcist, the doctors try to understand the child’s condition, and through repeated tests fail to cure her of her disease and ultimately resort to exorcism.

I do believe in jinns, because the Quran talks about it, but what do I make of those people who claim to be possessed by jinns? Can their personality change be justified in scientific terms, or are they really possessed by jinns? I don’t know the answer, but this movie is a great starting point to address this issue. One other small thing. In the movie, as Erin Bruner starts the trial, she experiences sleepless nights, specifically at 3am. 3am, as Father Moore explains, is the demons’ witching hour, which is an inversion of 3pm, which is the time when Jesus Christ was supposedly killed on the cross. I just got thinking: do the jinns, or demons, try to attack us if we meddle with their world?

A friend I know attempted to start writing a book about jinns, and has put that on hold temporarily as she claims she feels some strange force working against her, almost as if it were trying to stop her. As Erin Bruner says in the movie, “the trial is not about facts. Its about possibilities.” When something is a fact, there is no room for doubt. And in our world, isn’t it just possible that jinns possess us?

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