It’s been a while since I used a certain gif, but I just watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose. I put it off for days, until I finally convinced myself it was time. Maybe it wouldn’t be too bad, I told myself. After all, none of the other stuff for this class scared me too badly. And I play horror games all the time. It would be fine… right?
See, here’s the thing. We read a lot about ghosts this semester. I don’t believe in ghosts. A lot of the horror games I play are about monsters and situations completely fictional. No problem. There’s an easy defense when you’re scared–be rational and remember that these things aren’t real.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose is about demons. I believe in demons.
And we aren’t talking just demonic monstrosities like the Order’s “god” in Silent Hill. We’re talking fallen-angel-down-in-Hell demons. Devils. The Devil.
This movie freaked me out. The “be rational” defense doesn’t work when it’s something you believe is possible. And thinking about it just makes it worse.
Oddly, the movie became less frightening for me the further it went on. The scenes where Emily first started to have issues and see things were the most disturbing for me, because it raised all sorts of questions. What would you do if you were all alone and encountered something like that? What if you started seeing horrific sights everywhere?
And possibly the most twisted fear the movie provoked–if medicine was necessary to cure you if you had a medical condition, but damaging if you were possessed, what would you do? How would you know which course to choose when either option would harm you in one of the two scenarios?
(For that matter, being treated for a medical condition or mental disorder when the things you experience are really happening is scary enough even without thinking about possession specifically.)
After those early scenes, I paused the movie and took a few moments to compose myself before I started watching again. Once I finish this response, I’m going to find some light, happy things to occupy myself with (sorry, Alien: Isolation, but this isn’t your night) so that I have a hope of sleeping well tonight. If I wake up during the night, I am not checking the time, just in case it’s 3 AM. NOPE!
Now, even though it made the whole movie much more terrifying than if it was just about ghosts or vampires or whatever, I liked the religious angle. I really liked the exorcism scene itself, because as disturbing as it was, the confrontation between Father Moore and the demons inside Emily was fascinating.
I also really liked the courtroom framework. For one thing, it reminded me of my favorite series.
It also provided a nice framework in which to tell the story, and allowed for the present events and past events to be told at the same time. Seeing the supernatural events happen to the protagonists in the present increased the tension and creepiness. It also meant the audience was aware of Emily’s fate, so you knew it was going to get worse and worse. I feel it was a much stronger approach than if the movie told Emily’s story in real time.
Don’t take my earlier comments to mean I didn’t like The Exorcism of Emily Rose. I did. It was a dark, fascinating struggle of light versus darkness, of religion versus skepticism, a case of demonic possession examined in a court of law. While some of the side characters seemed underused, overall, I found it to be a well-told and interesting story.
And I’m never watching it again.---
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