Mixed or average reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 32
  2. Negative: 7 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    Some genuine shocks punctuate The Exorcism of Emily Rose, an unusually intelligent genre item that manages to mix full-bore horror with courtroom drama.
  2. With a cast like this, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a superior performance vehicle and on that count alone is never less than riveting.
  3. 75
    Somehow the movie really never takes off into the riveting fascination we expect in the opening scenes. Maybe it cannot; maybe it is too faithful to the issues it raises to exploit them.
  4. Emily Rose is the thinking person's demon possession movie, which presents a chilling case history that's hard to explain away.
  5. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Plays like a modern-day inversion of "Inherit the Wind," highlighting an astonishing shift in the American legal system over the last 80 years.
  6. Fans expecting horror won't want a thought-provoking, well-acted courtroom drama about the intersection of religious belief and the law.
  7. Part "Law & Order," part "The Omen," the movie doesn't trust the audience to follow serious theological and legal discussion without a spook hook.
  8. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Fashioning a hybrid of a courtroom drama and a horror film that is suspenseful and scary requires a clear vision and directorial finesse. Rose lacks both. But the performances are topnotch.
  9. 63
    Take away the performances, and all that would be left is a cheapish B-grade motion picture.
  10. 60
    Could have been both a gripping courtroom drama and a chilling "is she or isn’t she?" horror tale. What we have instead is a movie that drifts, almost unmanned, from plot point to plot point.
  11. Reviewed by: Olly Richards
    Ror all its cleverness, Emily Rose does have its hokey moments.
  12. It's a pretense of even-handedness. The true story has been reduced to a case for faith. It merely sacrifices all reason to get there.
  13. Reviewed by: Richard James Havis
    Derrickson's characters are reduced to ciphers in a theological debate. Long wedges of the film are simply a discussion about the relative merits of science and superstition. Carpenter, as the sick girl, puts in the best performance.
  14. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    It's hard to get riled up one way or the other by a film about an exorcist who is forced, cruelly and relentlessly, to introduce one flashback after another.
  15. 50
    Allegedly it's based on a true story, which is believable only because the outcome is so unsatisfying it carries the dull metallic tang of real-life ambiguity. And that's neither scary nor stimulating.
  16. 50
    This windy courtroom drama is punctuated by cheesy flashbacks.
  17. Reviewed by: David Gilmour
    Positively hops with jolts and frights but they're the cheap kind.
  18. 50
    Part courtroom drama, part otherworldly shocker, the film basically restages the Scopes Monkey Trial and comes out once more against Mr. Darrow, and it's got the spine-twisting, tongues-speaking, devil-channeling hellion to prove it.
  19. 50
    Muddled tale of faith and reason.
  20. While not especially good - judged strictly on its cinematic merits, it ranges from O.K. to god-awful - it is still a fascinating cultural document in the age of intelligent design.
  21. 50
    The script is a lifeless succession of attorney-client debates and stormy horror flashbacks, though I had a good time watching Jennifer Carpenter, a comic Buffy type in "White Chicks" and "D.E.B.S.," hurl herself around as the title character.
  22. I'm all for hearty theological debate. But this is intellectual suicide. Even worse, it's boring intellectual suicide.
  23. 40
    Simultaneously sober and silly horror picture.
  24. 40
    Creepy enough at first, this relatively gore-free film gradually becomes a stifling talk-fest in which superb actors drone on for so long about the nature of belief that one longs for a juror to spew a little pea soup.
  25. Derrickson's flick can sour your stomach with piety, which is a shame -- its moments of jolt wattage rate with many J-horrors.
  26. The dullest exorcist movie ever made.
  27. 38
    Unfortunately, nothing in it rings with the faintest tinkle of truth.
  28. 30
    Derrickson's staid direction, coupled with Wilkinson’s sad-sack priest and a general air of dreariness make for a courtroom thriller that’s somewhat less apocalyptic than the "L.A. Law" episode involving the death of Benny's mom.
  29. It has but one thing going for it: a cast filled with Oscar nominees.
  30. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    The acting in this movie is unusually bad--atrocious, even.
  31. 25
    Oh, how good actors can trap themselves in drivel.
  32. 25
    The fun of these movies is that Linney often seems too refined for such greasy junk, but there she is anyway, hamming it down as it were.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 95 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 53
  2. Negative: 10 out of 53
  1. ChristopherW.
    Jan 16, 2007
    As much as I had hoped this story would captivate me, I simply never found the film adequately engaging. Most of the plot is conveyed through flashbacks that are distressingly deviant in tone and purpose from the present day scenes set in a courtroom. If the audience is meant to question the forces of evil that may exist in the world or is asked to feel sympathy and compassion for Emily's fate, we are never given a real sense of why any of this really matters. I fully dismiss all supernatural explanations, but I am still intrigued by the notion that there are people who don't. Emily Rose ultimately fails to meaningfully connect to its audience because the screenplay is never quite sure what it wants to do. Is it fright film? Is it allegory? Is it a tale of mental illness? Is it a tale of demonic possession? Is it a courtroom battle between reason and faith? Maybe the film is all of these things. Unfortunately all of these ambiguous angles eventually steal each other's thunder. The film is too cluttered with ideas, but the performances are no less than adequate. In any case, Emily Rose is a mixed bag. Proceed with caution! Full Review »
  2. DonP.
    Sep 12, 2005
    This film was far better than the reviews made it out to be - I agree with the Chronicle's review "a thinking man's horror film". I'm a huge Laura Linney fan and thought she was fabulous. I was sucked in, and much more scared and shook up than I am by stupid grotesque slasher movies. This film avoids cheap exploitations to try to convey what actually happened, and I find that to be more unsettling. Go see it. It's interesting that the users' ratings are so much higher than the critics'. Full Review »
  3. Sep 2, 2014
    Nearly every film surrounding an exorcism takes huge influences from 1974's The Exorcist. Of all of these films, this might be the best attempt to be refreshing. Full Review »