Why There Will Never Be A Scary Possession Movie As The Exorcist
Based very loosely on the reported case of Anneliese Michel, The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) rushes through the story of the 21-year-old German woman who was dispossessed to death a little too quickly to evoke the same empathy the audience feels for Regan. It’s his most glaring flaw in an otherwise original twist on possession. Director Scott Derrickson uniquely frames it as a courtroom drama, with Laura Linney’s attorney defending the priest (Tom Wilkinson) who performed rites gone horribly wrong.
The film maintains a very unsettling vibe and leaves open the question of whether Emily’s (Jennifer Carpenter) incidents were the result of the undiagnosed temporal lobe epilepsy that he turned out to be. From 1975 to 1976, Anneliese Michel, called Emily in the film, underwent 67 exorcisms. The German bishops later withdrew the designation of possession, finding that the woman had died of malnutrition and dehydration due to the exorcism sessions. The two Roman Catholic priests who performed the rites were convicted of negligent homicide, as was the mother. A little more reality and a lot less rush would have made this movie a lot scarier and more memorable, perhaps on par with The Exorcist.
Two of the most unnerving and suspenseful possession films center not on a traumatized child, but on hardened adult detectives, one from a city homicide squad, the other in private practice. In Fallen (1998) the featured demon is Azazel. Tired of being the scapegoat to bear the sins of atonement, this demon can possess people by mere touch, jumping from body to body. This is how he escapes a death sentence to continue a series of unholy murders. The film stars Denzel Washington as John Hobbes, who nearly defeats the Old Testament entity by letting it possess him.
In angel heart (1987), Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) is a private detective on the outside but he is actually the conscience of Johnny Favorite, a jazz age singer who has sold his soul to the devil for fame, fortune and powers so dark that local The Voodoo Priestess surmises “Favorite was as close to true evil as she ever wanted.”
When it is revealed that Angel committed crimes to conceal his past identity, Louis Cyphre, the devil himself portrayed by none other than Robert De Niro, teases the likelihood of possession. Cyphre says Angel’s frenzy was “guided by my own hand, of course.” Did Angel commit the cover-up murders as an emerging favorite, giving his memories to the soul who truly owns his identity, or was he possessed by Lucifer to commit the cover-up crimes and incriminate himself? The threat of possession is probably never more pronounced.
Science and religion, who is the devil here?
Prince of Darkness (1987), directed by John Carpenter, examines possession from a scientific perspective. A group of scientists and students, led by a professor (Victor Wong) and a priest (Donald Pleasence), study a pot found in a church basement that contains a substance that may be the physical manifestation of the devil, according to an ancient text. , but not by test studies. Moody and atmospheric, it all falls apart before the end of the world arrives. The film would not stand up to peer review.