Late summer and early fall always brings out the inner boogeyman in the major studios. They pounce upon Halloween like a fat kid on a cupcake. It’s the perfect excuse to trot out all their supposedly “scary” stories which have of late starred far too many current and former actors from The WB and UPN. The problem with some of these is that they are not – and this is a big issue – scary.
“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” stars Jennifer Carpenter in the true story of a young woman whom the Catholic Church officially acknowledged as being possessed by a demon. During the exorcism, performed by a priest played by Tom Wilkinson, Rose died and the priest was put on trial for homocide. Laura Linney, who will one day be mine, is the lawyer defending him and Campbell Scott is the prosecuter in the case. Alongside the story of the actual trial this is also the story or Linney’s attorney, who must grow to accept who she is and her place in the world.
Very nice poster for this one. All we see is Rose’s back as she approaches a withered and dying tree. The simple almost monochromatic look to the one-sheet is very effective at presenting this not as a slasher-type horror flick, but as a mysterious drama. There are two copy points on the poster that caught my eye. First, it points to a web address of www.whathappenedtoemily.com. I was hoping this was some sort of viral site that would have spooky type goings on. Unfortunately, it just redirected to the official site, which I’ll review in good time. The second thing I noticed was that where there’s usually a release date it just says “In Theaters Fall 2005.” I haven’t followed the history of the production of this movie but that strikes me as something that would be put on there if the movie had been delayed often and the studio was avoiding locking themselves into a specific date.
Now that’s some freaky shit. We see interspersed images of the priest’s trial and Rose’s illness/possession. There are many moments of Rose walking along and the face of a passerby turning into a demon and her needing to be restrained. Along with that there is Linney’s investigation and some of the demons, both internal and external, that she is dealing with throughout the course of the movie. There’s remarkable restraint shown in terms of throwing splashy special effects at us (I’m looking at you Exorcist: The Beginning) and much more attention being paid to the story going on at the heart of the movie. Also making very few appearances are spooky corners being turned or cheesy one-liners that ultimately degrade the movie.
Sony really hit the bullseye when they introduced their Playstation Portable, or PSP if you’re a geek. The portable game system quickly evolved into a multimedia device for not just games but movies and music as well. That’s why it’s not surprising to see, right there on the front page of the site, a label “Watch Clips & Download to Your PSP.” Sony’s utilizing of the direct connection they have to the users of this platform gives them a unique ability to provide content for it. Yes, other studios have latched on and are releasing movies on the UMD media but it is, at the end of the day, Sony’s technology. Anyway, click that link and you can do just what’s promised, view the trailer and some clips as well as download them for transfer to the PSP.
Also on that front page is a blurb about “The Real Exorcists on A&E”. Click that and you get a pop-up with showtimes for this documentary (and I use that word loosely) on real exorcisms and the people who perform them. Is it just me or is A&E increasingly pimping itself out with these tie-ins to upcoming movie releases? Have some dignity or at least admit to the world and yourself that you’re nothing but a whore and are willing to be penetrated in a very uncomfortable place.
The rest of the site is solid if unremarkable. “About Emily” is a series of pictures and news-clippings related to the case. There’s nothing explicitly stating this, but these appear to be actual clips from the initial disturbance call that alerted officials to Emily’s condition. “Faith/Science” I was hoping was going to be a informative exploration of how religion and science differ on key points but instead it’s just a series of sound bytes played over some Flash animation.
“Possession” contains some case studies and newspaper articles on alleged or confirmed incidents of possession of the years. “About the Film” and “Synopsis” are the same thing. There’s about ten pictures in the “Photo Gallery”and only the trailer can be found under “Media”. The usual assortment of Buddy Icons, Wallpapers and a Screensaver are located in “Downloads”. There’s a section called “Cast & Crew” but less than a week before opening day it’s still labeled as Coming Soon. Nothing like waiting for the last minute, I guess.
I was a bit surprised to see that the “Download to PSP” option wasn’t repeated within the Flash-based portion of the site. Perhaps they didn’t think it was necessary, though I would think making people go back to the intro-page would be counter-intuitive. You want people to keep going in the site, not bounce out because they can’t find something. More likely it was an after-thought on the part of the studio and it couldn’t be fit into the delivery date for the Flash-site and was therefore tacked on where it was.
Not bad, and I’m a well-documented non-horror person. It’s really the mysterious way the movie is presented along with the performances from Scott, Wilkinson and Linney that draw me in. The trailer is tight without being corny, the poster is first-rate and the website has, well, not a lot, but it’s alright. At least it shows Sony is trying to innovate by providing the PSP download option.
As moviemaking costs increase, the pressure to successfully market those movies becomes greater. In an attempt to show how marketers are trying to put the most hinders in the theater seats, Chris Thilk breaks down why some movie campaigns work and some don’t. The posters for “The Rocketeer” and “Unforgiven” remain two of his all-time favorites. For Chris’ ongoing movie journal and other various musings, visit his Movie Marketing Madness blog.
Posted on September 7, 2005 in Features by Chris Thilk
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