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March 21, 2013

Movie Review: The Rite (2011)

 by Peggy Christie

The Rite is about Michael, a mortician who, while very good at his job, seems lost and unhappy. In his family, if you’re not a mortician, you’re a priest. So Michael enrolls in seminary school, despite his lack of faith in God and religion (this IS my shocked face), with the idea that if in four years it doesn’t work out, he can just quit.

As he physically leaves the seminary, a bizarre series of events results in the accidental death of a passing cyclist. While administering last rites to the poor dying woman, Michael’s teacher sees ‘something’ in him. He instructs Michael (more like extorts him) to head to Rome where he can take a course in exorcisms. Apparently there’s been an uprising in demonic possessions and the Vatican wants a licensed exorcist in every parish.


While there, Michael meets Father Lucas, an actual exorcist, and assists him in various duties with an Italian girl who ‘claims’ to be possessed. Michael discovers that the pregnant girl was raped by her father and is now carrying his baby so of course, THAT’S what’s really going on and she needs a shrink, not the church. He seems to overlook the fact that she horks up 3 giant nails, knows things about him that she shouldn’t, contorts like a Cirque du Soleil master, and speaks with more than one voice.
Details, details…

The longer Michael works with Father Lucas, the more he comes to realize the truth.

If I’d gone into this movie thinking it wasn’t in the horror genre, I might have liked it better. But almost every exorcism movie is marketed as horror, even though the Hollywood snobs (along with the literary ones) seem to think horror is only good at generating schlock and therefore, money.

But this flick is more of a dramatic thriller, with an emphasis on the drama. The story here is more about faith, or lack thereof, and Michael’s struggle to figure out where he fits in with the secular and religious worlds. Even Father Lucas and Michael’s teacher are portrayed as flawed men who struggle each day with their faiths. Most of the time, those in the church are made out to be paragons or covetous douchebags hiding behind their collars.

The possession in this movie turns out to be real which, of course, helps Michael to find his beliefs and strength. But it was pretty obvious from the very beginning how this movie would play out.
Anthony Hopkins (as Father Lucas) is brilliant, as always, but the rest of the movie is predictable and tired.

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