Genre fans spend entire years waiting for a horror flick that can attract top-shelf talent like Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson and Campbell Scott. Then again, we once said similar things about Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Neither fiendish fish nor fanged fowl, The Exorcism of Emily Rose takes the truth-based story of a college-age girl who died while under an exorcist's care and turns it into legal drama that's no more special or sophisticated than anything playing on TV these days. Injected into the dull courtroom exchanges are flashbacks to the "possession" case itself; though many of these scenes are exercises in insidiously mounting suspense, their underwhelming payoffs make the film suffer needlessly by comparison to the ever-shocking The Exorcist. Muffing his best chance at depth, director Scott Derrickson has his cast play everything on the surface, failing to suggest the underlying story themes church versus state, individual rights versus reckless endangerment, etc. that the procedurally oriented script likewise leaves underexploited. With potential this high, A Few Good Demons just doesn't cut it.
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