The Rite (2011)

The Rite
Add to Queue

Supernatural themes, Violence and infrequent coarse language

Director: Mikael Hafstrom
Actors: Anthony Hopkins, Alice Braga, Colin O'donoghue, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones, Rutger Hauer

Inspired by true events, The rite follows sceptical seminary student Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue), who reluctantly attends exorcism school at the Vatican. While in Rome, he meets an unorthodox priest, Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), who introduces him to the darker side of his faith, uncovering the devil's reach even to one of the holiest places on Earth.

DVD
Status: QuickPick
Run time: 114mins
Origin: UNITED STATES
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
God squad
by Simon Miraudo,

Mikael Håfström’s demonic-possession flick The Rite has an interesting credit; perhaps the first of its kind: “Suggested by the book The Rite - The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio”. Suggested by. What does that mean? We all know phrases like “Inspired by true events” or “Based on the book” translate to “This is about 10% true”. But what could we possibly discern from “Suggested by”? The Twilight books may “suggest” young girls should be grateful when their boyfriends hit them and tell them how awful they are, but we can’t just go hire Larry Clark to unofficially reboot the series and claim it was “suggested” by the books of Stephanie Meyer. So, from those dubious beginnings comes The Rite. Frankly, I’m not all that interested in the veracity of events here. We’ve seen plenty ...

Mikael Håfström’s demonic-possession flick The Rite has an interesting credit; perhaps the first of its kind: “Suggested by the book The Rite - The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio”. Suggested by. What does that mean? We all know phrases like “Inspired by true events” or “Based on the book” translate to “This is about 10% true”. But what could we possibly discern from “Suggested by”? The Twilight books may “suggest” young girls should be grateful when their boyfriends hit them and tell them how awful they are, but we can’t just go hire Larry Clark to unofficially reboot the series and claim it was “suggested” by the books of Stephanie Meyer.

So, from those dubious beginnings comes The Rite. Frankly, I’m not all that interested in the veracity of events here. We’ve seen plenty of films about exorcisms before this one, and never before has their supposed authenticity frightened me any more or less. The Exorcist – a movie I will be referring back to pretty regularly, as I’m sure you’ll understand – is not a masterpiece because “OMG, a friend of mine heard from their uncle that he knew someone who used to live across the street from the girl they based Regan on”. It expertly told the story of two priests – one young and lacking in faith, the other old and embattled – forced to confront their spirituality as they peered into the eyes of the devil. That William Friedken was able to imbue this haunting tale with moments of unforgettable terror is but a bonus.

The Rite tells pretty much the same story, without a central possessed girl to act as fulcrum to the fathers’ emotional trials. Colin O’Donoghue stars as Michael Kovak, a dude so unwilling to take over his estranged father’s mortuary, he runs off to the seminary (born to be wiiiiiiiild!). At the end of his degree, the faithless Michael decides not to take his vows. But he doesn’t quite score the degree for free; his superior Father Matthew (Toby Jones) blackmails him into taking an all-expenses-paid exorcism primer in Rome. What can he say? It’s like a HELP-debt of Catholic guilt. In Rome he learns the ins-and-outs of conducting exorcisms (a physician must be present; extensive psychological studies must have been conducted on the patient first) and then meets the unconventional Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), who takes him out of class to show him the ropes, for reals this time.

One of my favourite moments from the original Exorcist is actually in the newly released cut, in which the two fathers sit dejectedly on the staircase after wrestling – unsuccessfully – with Regan’s demons for hours. They share an unspoken moment of defeatism. It’s not that they finally believe in God again because they have witnessed a demon in action (you can’t believe in one without the other, as The Rite boringly reminds us); the ongoing conflict is that they have trouble rationalising a God worth believing in when evil can reign so easily on Earth. The Exorcist faced hard truths. The Rite doesn’t.

Director Håfström’s previous film was the fun rollercoaster ride 1408, but his love of cheeky jump scares does not translate to what should be a mostly dramatic tale of finding one’s faith (the cats literally jumping at the camera seem particularly out of place). Hopkins is fun, but he seems totally intent on disarming any and every scary moment with his matter-of-fact performance (which I liked, but is totally at odds with Håfström’s direction). Frankly, even last year’s surprisingly great horror-comedy The Last Exorcism handled this same story with more affecting pathos.

The Rite won’t be the last movie about exorcisms we ever see - and that’s good, because this is a subgenre worth mining until the end of time - but filmmakers shouldn’t be afraid to try a more serious take on occasion. Håfström and Hopkins have misjudged the picture they’re making, and we’re left with a tonal mishmash that is neither scary nor moving. The over-the-top-but-not-far-enough and ultimately silly scenes of possession don’t help either. In The Exorcist – made 38 years ago mind you – we had a possessed little girl saying horrible, unrepeatable things. Here, one of the worst expletives shared by the demon is the phrase “kissy lips”. Alright then.

2/5

Check out Simon's other reviews here.

Read More

Member Reviews (36)

Phil
says
Why Anthony Hopkins? It didn't do it for me as seeing Hopkins as an exorcist was way too unrealistic. They could have taken Tom Cruise we would have got the same effect. Anyway American BS with a few good scenes and a good start but unfortunately the last forty five minutes were full of cliches. And it's based on a true story.. Whatever!
Posted Saturday, 11 May 2013 See my other reviews
Quatermass
says
Disappointing.
Posted Monday, 11 February 2013 See my other reviews
ICP
says
Very slow, had its interesting parts although the beginning was a bit "all over the shop" and not a lot of purpose. Lacked depth and detail - which you'd accept if it had the action or horror elements - which this didn't. Without Anthony Hopkins, it would be a zero to 1 star, his portrayal and acting abilities got it to a 'bad' rating.
Posted Monday, 10 December 2012 See my other reviews
Luis from Perth
says
Great acting I have to say, and if you are a truly religious person who believes in things like the devil and angels, you will just love it. If you are just a normal person however, who would expect an intelligent ending to justify you spending 2 hours watching crazy people talking about the supernatural, you will be left frustrated and quite annoyed!
Posted Wednesday, 28 November 2012 See my other reviews
Lea
says
Boring to start but not bad. Worth a watch.
Posted Monday, 17 September 2012 See my other reviews
Lloyd
says
Not bad and Hopkins shines but basically its just another Exorcist clone that tries too hard to be realistic and the 3rd act is just another rehash of Hopkins playing a Lector like character when he's possesed. The horror is passable but nothing classy as the Exorist or even Beyond the door. Godd but not great.
Posted Saturday, 14 July 2012 See my other reviews
Tony C.
says
Like an encore to Silences of the lambs screaming bits.
Posted Sunday, 8 July 2012 See my other reviews
john
says
Nothing, compared to Silence Of The Lambs.
Posted Tuesday, 22 May 2012 See my other reviews
Steph
says
The only thing that really saved this movie was Anthony Hopkins. Apart from his brilliant acting and ability to portray the clever madman, the storyline was very weak and slow moving, it felt as though there were gaps in the storyline. The special effects were also a disappointment, considering its 2012 and the variety and exceptional quality of special effects available, most of it was your standard jump at the screen and basic make-up transformations. Still I would not hesitate to recommend it to a friend if they want something to watch for a bit of a scare. In the end though the original Exorcist still beats it by far!!
Posted Sunday, 20 May 2012 See my other reviews
Baddie
says
For all non believers - food for thought. Really enjoyed this, wasnt sure where it would go. It does make you think twice about the devil and his ways!!! You do need to have an open mind to watch it if you dont believe in heaven and hell. By the way it finished makes me think (and hope) there will be another one. :)
Posted Tuesday, 15 May 2012 See my other reviews
Honest Rater
says
Despite closely resembling a warning against the loss of the crumbling Catholic Church in society, this is worth watching just to see Mr Hopkins do his thing.
Posted Thursday, 10 May 2012 See my other reviews
Sam
says
3 stars only because it has Anthony Hopkins in. Not one his better movies. Fully agree with Johno's review.
Posted Tuesday, 1 May 2012 See my other reviews
Susan
says
Anthony Hopkins is amazing in this movie was a pretty good movie
Posted Wednesday, 25 April 2012 See my other reviews
leish
says
Loved it
Posted Monday, 23 April 2012 See my other reviews
kathy
says
fantistic movie with Anthony Hopkins as lthe lead roll, certainally draws you into the movie, and gets your full attention
Posted Saturday, 14 April 2012 See my other reviews
Scotchmick
says
A good movie, I hate demons though...
Posted Thursday, 1 March 2012 See my other reviews
Johno
says
The Exorcist is by far and away above this one, given The Rite was made in 2011 the special effects are terrible and not even Anthony Hopkins can save it.
Posted Tuesday, 28 February 2012 See my other reviews
sue
says
Attending and exorcising, so scary this stuff
Posted Tuesday, 21 February 2012 See my other reviews
lee
says
It was ok.....hopkins was great but storyline was a bit weak....lame special effects....could have been brilliant
Posted Sunday, 5 February 2012 See my other reviews
Pieta
says
Disappointed, not scary. A good story line that had the potential to be really good, just didn't get there. Was a bit slow, got better towards the end. The movie was OK.
Posted Tuesday, 22 November 2011 See my other reviews
Kait
says
Okay, a bit boring and slow but worth a watch.
Posted Saturday, 19 November 2011 See my other reviews
D.Sanders
says
What's not to love about Anthony Hopkins? He makes this movie!
Posted Thursday, 27 October 2011 See my other reviews
Pfurball
says
This was a suspenseful horror movie that hinted at terrible possessions without gruesome detail but very cleverly built up the suspense. Fine actors and a gripping story line.
Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 See my other reviews
Irix
says
Pretty predictable and boring, didn't really find it scary. It was cheesy and silly.
Posted Tuesday, 11 October 2011 See my other reviews
Van Spam
says
Pretty good, an exorcism movie with a twist, not such stellar acting to be found anywhere, even on the part of Sir Anthony Hopkins. All in all, just another movie about demonic possession.
Posted Monday, 26 September 2011 See my other reviews
brian
says
ok
Posted Wednesday, 21 September 2011 See my other reviews
j
says
It was okay, was a little disappointed as I was expecting much more of a scare and a lot less cheese! Worth a watch but it's no Exorcism of Emily Rose!
Posted Wednesday, 31 August 2011 See my other reviews
libralady08
says
Scary, scary, movie. But very well done - loved it - but watched it thru the day only!
Posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011 See my other reviews
scotchy
says
Now here is a really excellent movie with Hopkins at his very best as both priest and priest possessed. Excellent cinemaphotography, believable storyline and good settings. Just was a little confused at the start but it all fell into place towards the end. A must see.
Posted Monday, 29 August 2011 See my other reviews
Dave
says
Hopkins at his best ! loved it. He always nails playing the evil sinister role. recommended horror thriller
Posted Wednesday, 24 August 2011 See my other reviews
cherie8A@hotmail.com
says
Excellent movie. Anthony Hopkins at his best.
Posted Wednesday, 24 August 2011 See my other reviews
Deb
says
This movie was very good, one of the better thriller/horrors I have seen for quite awhile. I even had a nightmare about it !
Posted Wednesday, 17 August 2011 See my other reviews
Dean Jones
says
Great movie, good story, well acted and not too OTT. Highly recommended.
Posted Thursday, 28 July 2011 See my other reviews
Matthew B.
says
The film isn't as scary as you might have been lead to believe, in fact it's more of a thriller than a horror. Anthony Hopkins again proves why he is renowned as brilliant! The film's climax shows Hopkins at his finest, menacing, no holds barred, evil and maniacal!
Posted Sunday, 24 July 2011 See my other reviews
KPL
says
Has its moments. Anthony Hopkins is a damn fine actor. Not as scary as the trailer made out.
Posted Wednesday, 20 July 2011 See my other reviews
Luisa E
says
Excorcism type movie. Based on a true story. Quite good. Never got bored and kept me interested. Well done!
Posted Tuesday, 15 March 2011 See my other reviews