*Warning: this review may contain some spoilers and graphic video that may be disturbing to some readers*.
I watched this film a few years ago when it was released and just to be frank, it absolutely scared living daylights out of me. Everything about this movie demonstrates malevolence, fear, possession, loss and the bowels of hell- making even the non-believers shiver just a little!
This movie is loosely based on the true events of Anneliese Michel who had undergone numerous Catholic exorcism rites in 1975 and died a year later, due to lack of medical care. Her autopsy proved that her body was malnourished and starved of treatment. Her parents and the priest involved were charged with negligent homicide. Since exorcism is over 400 years old and the fact that the Catholic church decided to use this method to treat Anneliese, her case became a media phenomenon. After she was diagnosed with epilepsy and depression at 16, she received psychiatric treatment to no avail and by the time she was 20 she had become intensely intolerant of religious objects and had begun hearing voices. Soon after she began speaking in tongues and languages she had never spoken before and showed erratic behavior such as eating insects, drinking her own urine, self harm and displaying an aggressive manner. The voices told her she would "rot in hell" and that she was "damned". She also suffered hallucinations while praying.
Despite strong medication being prescribed (one which was used to treat severe psychosis and schizophrenic disorders) her condition worsened and made her suicidal. Anneliese and her family were convinced she was possessed by demons, therefore they reached out to the local priest (who, with after permission from the bishop) began performing exorcisms on her, which eventually led to her death in 1976. Her end result was death caused by unidentified mental illness, neglect, abuse and hysteria.
But this is only the medical and historical side to the story. "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" depicts what it was like for Anneliese ('Emily'), what she felt, saw and experienced first hand, and how medical professionals were trying to gain control over the matter by attempting to diagnose her with illnesses to provide explanations for her conditions and behavior, even after medication had failed to improve her condition.
Regardless if you are a non-believer of heaven and hell, God and Satan, after watching and experiencing this epic motion picture, you will be convinced there is definitely a higher power out there, greater than any of us can imagine. You cannot leave it to science to always explain everything. Yes we are flesh and blood, yes people have mental illnesses but how can you explain a young woman being able to speak fluent Latin during an "episode", even after she had never studied the language before? And how can you explain the hallucinations and the "demonic faces" that frequently haunted her?
Towards the end of the film Emily Rose is offered either to give her soul up to Christ and die now or continue living but be damned with the possession of demons and due to her being frightened and not wanting to die (I'm sure I'd be scared too!) she chose to continue living- thus begun her painful exit from this world.
The movie itself is a frightening one but without many jumpy scares. This film contains more terrifying sort of scenes such as when Emily Rose is awoken one night in her dorm and as she wakes, her bed covers slowly begin being pulled off her and then she uncontrollably slides onto the floor, fiercely contorting in such a disturbing manner that your mind is captured for a moment. As her body lies frozen on the floor, the demonic spell of Lucifer engorges her lifeless body, making her look horrific as her eyes blacken under the power of the dark side.
The exorcisms are carried out on film with excellent acting, complete with screaming, dubbed demonic voices and languages and the realness of the event. Not a movie for the faint-hearted as this film touches on sensitive subjects like religion, ethics and a true to life experience. But for your typical exorcism-themed horror flick? I'd give it a 10/10 because if you're needing a good scare and you're not closed off to believing, The Exorcism of Emily Rose will be your next fright!