The Exorcism of Emily Rose: Awake at 3 AM?


I originally saw The Exorcism of Emily Rose at a movie theater in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I recall it vividly because of how suggestible I apparently was.


In the film, clocks stop at 3 AM and strange events, allegedly demonic in origin, happen at this time. A priest in the movie explains that 3 AM is the Devil’s Hour, mocking the Holy Trinity. I’d never heard of this idea that a specific hour of the day was more evil than another.


The movie was based upon the true story of Anneliese Michel, a German woman who died after an exorcism in the 1970s. For me, seeing “based on a true story” usually amps up the thrills. This one was no different; The Exorcism of Emily Rose scared the bejesus out of me.


For a few months (yes, MONTHS) after watching the movie, I would wake out of a sound sleep at 3 AM. Prior to the movie, I didn’t wake at that hour, or any hour until my alarm went off. Night after night, I would wake at 3 AM and usually feel concerned that something nefarious was afoot.


One night, I realized I’d never had any concerns about waking in the night at any particular time prior to viewing this particular scary movie. I’d never had any reason to be scared when it was 3 AM. Thinking it through, I became aware that I’d taken this idea from a piece of entertainment and let it shake me up! I couldn’t believe how suggestible I was, how open to receive this movie tidbit as fact.


It was my own suggestibility that I considered when I watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose last week, and that awareness gave me a new slant on the suggestibility of the main character. Emily comes from a highly religious home and goes off to college. She goes to a dance and even canoodles a bit her boyfriend.


Imagine how seriously someone might believe they had sinned if they had come from such a devout household. How does she rationalize what she’s done? How does she come to terms with her choices when she feels such shame and guilt?


The only acceptable answer that her she and her loved ones could get onboard with: demonic influences. Emily wasn’t acting of her own freewill. She was possessed!


Could a person convince themselves that they are filled with demons? I don’t see why not. I, a typically way too logical adult, managed to be convinced for a short time that 3 AM was chock full of evil simply by watching a film. It seems reasonable that someone from a strict upbringing could convince themselves that the Devil made them dance and smooch.


I have no way of knowing if Anneliese, the woman that inspired the film, was impressionable enough to believe being possessed was the only explanation for her thoughts or behaviors. Maybe Anneliese had an untreated mental illness. Maybe Anneliese was living with the results of a traumatic brain injury. Or maybe, just maybe, she really was possessed by something otherworldly? You can text me your thoughts when you find yourself awake at 3 AM.

Paranormal Activity Still Holds Up


Sometimes when I watch a movie again years after it was released, it doesn’t always stand the test of time. The special effects might appear hokey, or it might be a storyline that would be crushed with a tool as simple as a mobile phone.


Maybe I’m alone in my thinking, but I felt like Paranormal Activity is still full of fun scares. It’s similar to Blair Witch Project in that we, the viewers, are supposed to believe we’re watching found film footage, not a scripted movie. Because it’s in this niche of found footage, I believe that gives Paranormal Activity staying power.


In Paranormal Activity, Katie and Micah are experiencing what might be a haunting in their townhouse. Katie explains that this has been happening for as long as she can remember, that the haunting follows her. Micah is a little annoyed that she didn’t mention the bit about being a ghost magnet before they started living together.


They decide to film what’s happening day to day and even record in the bedroom while they sleep. This approach works well to build up tension because there are sounds, for example, that take place well off camera. That’s a terrific plan for a tight movie-making budget since you don’t have to show anything scary for most of the film.


Noises, footprints, and even a photo found in the attic build up the creepy layers, but we haven’t seen the ghost or poltergeist or whatever might be haunting Katie and the home she shares with Micah. For me, this works well in the same way that the movie Jaws created tension. It’s allowing the viewer’s imagination to fill in the blanks. Perhaps that fails with folks who have no imagination, but for my whirling scary-go-round brain, filling in my own blanks is a major scare.


As a fan of scary movies, I was absolutely livid that Micah wanted to use a Ouija board. Has he really never seen any scary movies? This NEVER works out well, and it doesn’t work out well for Katie and Micah either.


Random side note: I was irritated by the pronunciation of “Micah” as “Meeka” instead of with a long “I” sound. I listened to several recordings of how to pronounce the name in English, and they all had the long i. Picky? Maybe, but it’s one of those pesky things that will break my interest in a movie. All they had to do was give him a name like “Scott” and there would have been no problem!


The big ending (spoilers!) mostly happens off camera. Again, this works because we believe that this is found footage. Micah’s body is thrown at the camera, knocking the camera down. We’re treated, at long last, to a glimpse of the demon, now making itself comfy in Katie. Totally scary when demon-possessed Katie screams and lunges at the camera to end the movie.


Paranormal Activity still holds up. The timing of the thumps, bumps, footsteps, and so on just builds and builds until it explodes into a demonic possession. Is it a profound artistic masterpiece? No way, but it’s still a reliable movie for startling scares without gore or crazy effects.

Sunday Funday: Let’s Go to the Movies

The Lodge Movie Poster

The Lodge Movie Poster

Sunday is usually our day to get out of the house in search of some fun.  With both of us fighting off some February germs, my sweetie and I decided to take it easy and just catch a movie.

We’d seen the trailer for The Lodge a few weeks back when we went to see Color Out of Space.  I thought The Lodge looked suitably creepy and have been on the lookout for it to land in the local theaters.

This is not a blood, chainsaws, and jump scares movie.  This film is a heavy, stressful kind of scary.

Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” — Stephen King

You have Dad’s new girlfriend caring for his two kids in Dad’s winter vacation cabin just before Christmas.  Dad’s a workaholic that skedaddles back to his job in the city, leaving the kids with this woman who is pretty much a stranger to them.  He’ll be back in two days, so what can go wrong?

Everything goes wrong.  The kids are jerks.  The girlfriend is more than a little off her rocker.  Let’s toss a blizzard into the mix and lose power so the cell phones are dead.  Everyone’s stranded in this cabin miles from nowhere with no communication and no vehicle.  Sounds like a super good time in the making, right?

What’s horrific in this movie is the churning of emotions.  The landscape is bleak, frozen white as far as the eye can see.  The situation is awful and getting worse every moment.  Our characters are cold, hungry, and desperate.  The two days that Dad is supposed to be gone seem more like a month.

Who is the villain in this movie; who is the monster?  Every character shows their ugly side, their darkness, at some point, but they also show their weak spots.  They are all at fault on some level; that’s why the movie stressed me out, because there really are no innocents and there is no happy ending lurking around the corner.

When the credits rolled, I was like, well, at least there weren’t screaming alpacas (Color Out of Space was stressful, particularly the alpacas).  I let out a sigh of relief for being set free from the weight of this movie.

The Lodge is scary because humans are terrifying.  There are no vampires or mask-wearing nuts roaming the woods, but this movie doesn’t need those gimmicks.