Director Scott Derrickson’s unusual mix of a courtroom drama and a horror film did solid business but was largely unheralded on its bigscreen run, a situation Sony hopes to rectify with two similar yet separate DVD releases — the theatrical version and a slightly longer unrated version. The unrated pic is three minutes longer, but the differences between the two versions are negligible. Extras reiterate the intelligence and care that went into the making of this movie, by turns harrowing, thought-provoking and even uplifting.
Derrickson (who co-wrote the film with producer Paul Harris Boardman) delivers an intriguing commentary, pointing out that the ambiguity of the story — was Emily possessed by demons or merely mentally ill? — was a deliberate choice. He says the PG-13 rating was due almost entirely to pic’s dramatic intensity and a couple of photos he considers less graphic than an average episode of TV’s “CSI.”
He does not address the difference between the different versions; however, nor do any of the other extras. Upon viewing it’s not clear what exactly was added in those three extra “unrated” minutes other than sales hype.
The three featurettes are thoughtful, particularly “The Genesis of the Story.” Boardman and Derrickson heard a portion of a tape from a purportedly real exorcism, and were so disturbed by what they heard that they decided to do research into the subject — a process the director describes as unpleasant.