Here’s the official synopsis:
Inspired by true events, this supernatural thriller follows a seminary student (Colin O’Donoghue) sent to study exorcism at the Vatican in spite of his own doubts about the controversial practice and even his own faith. Only when sent to apprentice with legendary Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), who has performed thousand of exorcisms, does his armor of skepticism begin to fall. Drawn into a troubling case that seems to transcend even Father Lucas’s skill, the young seminarian glimpses a phenomenon science can’t explain or control – and an evil so violent and terrifying that it forces him to question everything he believes.
I honestly can’t tell you what my expectations for this film was when I sat down to watch it. However, I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised at how it turned out. There are quite a few things this film got right.
First the acting. All the performances were great and made each character feel alive and not just filling a role. Anthony Hopkins is always a great actor, and when things turn to the creepy side, he plays an excellent demonic force. Truly this film made me wish he’d take up the villain role far more often.
The story itself is very engaging and will have you riveted the entire time. Despite all the heavy theology and lack of any real action, the story moves at a good pace, and there was never a moment where I felt bored, or that things were moving too slowly. In fact, I really loved how much they delved into the idea of theology versus science. They dug deep into it, but never felt ‘preachy’ about it. Instead it presents the religious aspects in a way that make you curious, and able to question your own ideas on the matter.
The best part of this film, is the way it gets you thinking. As a person who is already religious, it made me look into my own views on possession a little more, but it also presented plenty of views on the other side of the coin, in order to not alienate any other viewers to the movie. Even if you don’t get into the deeper aspects of the film, there is still enough of a story here to keep you interested until the end; if only to see which path Michael chooses.
Let me get a couple of the nitpicky things out of the way first. The ending felt very rushed. After all that has happened between Father Lucas and Michael, all that really happens is a quick “Thanks for everything, see you later” and then it skips ahead some time to show the life Michael has chosen. Given the big events in the film between the two, you’d expect a lot more closure than that.
Also the film presents itself as inspired by true events…yeah. Well the idea of there being a Exorcism School in the Vatican is true…and that’s about it. While the tale is based on the life of one priest who attended the school, everything else is highly fictionalized. Hell, even the short documentary on the blu-ray that goes into the ‘real-life’ aspects of the film goes to great lengths to NOT explain the true events. Simply because there aren’t that many. So if you forget that claim at the beginning of the film it’ll be easier to watch.
All right, here’s the main thing that bugged me: the film seemed to be confused as to which type of movie it was. If you remembered anything from the original trailers for the movie, they set it up almost as if it was another exorcism horror film. This simply isn’t the case…In fact, I’m reluctant to even categorize it as a horror film.
For the majority of the movie it plays out like a drama, with a few supernatural elements thrown in. It’s very thought-provoking and really strives to build it’s characters. So when the horror elements do show up, it’s very jarring and feels out of place. In fact, because I was so preoccupied with anticipating the next ‘horror’ moment, I found I missed out on the real purpose of a couple of interesting scenes.
This is really the only problem with the film. It should have chosen which kind of movie it wanted to be. Instead of infusing a very interesting drama with horror, they should have went with one genre. I think it would have been more successful that way, and far less out of place.
The Rite is a very interesting movie, that presents several theological ideas which will interest viewers of all beliefs. It’s got an engaging story that will keep you entertained until the very end (even if it does wrap up too quickly). While the horror elements feel out of place and oddly timed with the rest of the film, it shouldn’t ruin your experience.
The Rite gets a 7.5 out of 10. Well worth picking up.
The Rite is now available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download.