The Rite (January 2011) - Drama | Horror | Thriller
I love watching scary movies in the dark, alone - with just my dogs, and figured any horror film with Anthony Hopkins in it must be ridiculously incredible and exciting. You share my meaning: Right? I love such films because they make me wonder "what if that was real?" Sadly, this one left no room for such entertaining ponderings, not even when it resurrected the the idea behind "The Exorcist" (scariest movie from the early 1970s) and I thoroughly loved that flick and The Exorcist sequels.
Admitting that I love evil possession movies and setting that idea aside, after watching "The Rite" - with all its Catholic propaganda and a red-eyed donkey leaving hoof marks on a young boy's back - I simply did not feel moved by any of the demon possession stories presented here. (The Exorcist was so MUCH scarier and dramatically more believable.)
BASIC STORY LINE:
An American seminary student, Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue) grew up inside a funeral home where he watched his dad prepare his own mother for burial. Nearing his seminary graduation, Kovak strongly doubts his religious calling and wants to leave the ministry. So he negotiates with the Church to avoid paying back his student loans. That's how he ends up in Italy where he's supposed to study exorcisms, of all things.
So when Kovak meets his mentor, the very eccentric Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins), he's skeptical and assumes the priest may be using trickery to "treat" mentally ill patients who Father Trevant claims are possessed. Yet in time, those afflicted actually begin to see slow improvement with the priest's interception, unless of course we begin to count those who were reported dead - as the pregnant 16-year-old who bleeds to death while restrained to a hospital bed. Eventually Trevant himself becomes possessed by Satan and that's when we get to see the Father slap a sweet little girl in the face, followed by his body twisting in all sorts of interesting contortions and disfigurements.
* I love anything paranormal so I liked this film - even when this movie required that I overlook a very strong dogmatic push for accepting Roman Catholic church power.
* Great make-up and animation of Father Trevant when he's posessed (he looks really truly evil).
* Ignorantly demonizes animals (cats, donkeys, frogs) and conveys those innocent creatures in a most evil light.
* This movie seems to do what my childhood religious cult did and elevates evil as being more powerful than good ... claiming Satan will target anyone who does not believe in him and even Catholic Priests (God's servants) are completely helpless against the likes of him.
This movie is worth seeing but rent it (don't buy the DVD). I'm glad I did not pay to see this on the big screen. While it proved very entertaining and Anthony Hopkins performed extraordinarily well, I did not have as much respect for his depiction of Father Trevant's character as I held for his conveyance of Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs). This movie wasn't even believable in regards to possession phenomena (not even while it claims to be based on a true story). So while I liked the film, I did not love it. In fact, I will be exercising "The Rite" to sell or give my DVD away.
Director: Mikael Håfström
Writers: Michael Petroni (based on a reportedly "true story" by Journalist Matt Baglio)