The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Rated 3.0

A lawyer (Laura Linney) defends a priest (Tom Wilkinson) accused of homicide in the death of a young woman who allegedly was possessed by evil spirits. “Based on a true story,” it says, but we all know what that’s worth, especially in creep shows like this. Director Scott Derrickson, who co-wrote with Paul Harris Boardman, gets off to a bad start, deep in Exorcist and Amityville Horror territory, with cheap jolts set to Christopher Young’s obnoxious scare music. It’s as if Derrickson thought he’d need these cheesy hooks in the preview trailer. But in the second half, a surprising restraint sets in, and the movie becomes almost thoughtful about examining questions of faith and accountability. The performances of Linney and Wilkinson (and Campbell Scott as the prosecutor) add much-needed dignity.