What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the movie, despite its PG-13 rating, includes gruesome imagery, sound effects, and especially explicit references to demonic possession, animalistic behavior, self-inflicted violence, and of course, questions concerning religious faith and skepticism. The material is somewhat complex, in other words, and may be troubling and even harrowing for younger viewers. The film opens with screams on a black screen, indicating her death, then cuts to her family's reactions, inside their farmhouse; it goes on to show still shots of the dead girl (emaciated, bruised, and wounded), scary scenes of her possession (body contorted, guttural sounds and screaming, fast cuts and dark rain/shadows), and standard horror movie scenes of characters walking down dark hallways, running in the rain, hearing sounds and seeing shadows, and seeing their clocks all show 3am (a witching hour explained in the film). A character is violently struck and killed by a car, characters drink, smoke, and use occasional, mild, harsh language.
- Families can talk about the film's opposition of faith and science in the question of Emily's death. How does each approach fall short of explaining what has happened to her while also providing reassuring structure/resolution for those espousing these views? What is the effect of representing the case as a courtroom drama? How do Emily's visions or dreams become code for what's "real" and also for possible hallucination? How does the film combine subjective and so-called objective accounts of the events? How is Emily's family portrayed, as subordinate characters to the lawyers?