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More of a court room drama than a horror film, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is an exploration of belief. There is a statement in the film, “Demons exist whether you believe in them or not.” Actually, the idea should be expressed, “Reality is reality, no matter what you believe about it.” The fact is that our beliefs about the world do not influence it one way or the other. God exists or He doesn’t. It is not our beliefs that cause Him to be. The flip-side of that truth is also valid. Not believing in God will not make Him go away if He is indeed real.
Where this film really manages to lose its way is when it comes to the reason Emily believed she was possessed. The story being told is that of a devout catholic girl who becomes possessed by demons when she goes off to college. Exorcism fails and she ends up dying. Her priest is put on trial for manslaughter. In the course of the trial we learn that Emily asked God why she was allowed this hardship, and why attempts to cast the demons out were unsuccessful. We also hear that she had a vision giving her the answer. She claimed that God’s purpose behind the possession was to show the world that the Devil is real; therefore leading people back into a belief of God.
If that were really God’s plan, it would be one of the stupider ones people have attributed to Him. This film shows clearly that people will go out of their way to explain away anything that does not fit into their belief system. Presumably God could even take a more direct approach and show Himself or His power and people would still deny His existence. And the idea that a real, demonstrable devil would influence what people believe about God is not a valid assumption.
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