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The Rite (2011)

January 27, 2011

Written by: Michael Petroni (screenplay) and Matt Baglio (book)

Produced by: Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson

Directed by: Mikael Håfström

Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material, violence, frightening images, and language including sexual references

112 min.

U.S. Release Date: January 28, 2011

Mikael Håfström, director of such films as Derailed and 1408, is back on the saddle with another intentionally campy thriller called The Rite.  Anthony Hopkins stars as a weathered old exorcist in Rome who is training an up-and-coming young priest who is shaky in his faith.  Filled with jump scenes, scary musical cues, and plenty of other cheap thrills, The Rite is a perfect “what you see is what you get” January film that aims for camp and hits it with pinpoint accuracy.  Though the film has its desired effect, does that make it good?




Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) is a young seminary school student in training to become a Catholic priest.  There is only one problem with his journey to priesthood… Michael is not sure if he believes in God (minor setback!).  To instill a reverence in Michael, his teacher sends him to a special course in Rome on exorcism.


In Rome, the young priest-to-be takes Father Xavier’s (Ciarán Hinds) class, and it isn’t doing much in the way of faith building.  Michael argues every case study the class examines and he doesn’t seem to be getting much from the class.  Father Xavier decides to send Michael to an old friend of his, Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins), an exorcist who only takes the most serious cases of possession, to get some intensive training in the field.  With each increasingly more intense exorcism visit, Michael doesn’t seem to be making much headway, until one case gets a little too close to home.



Like I mentioned earlier, you should know what you are getting into even before you see this film.  The Rite is pure camp all the way through, only to be heightened when Anthony Hopkins hits the screen.  With the exception of Hopkins, none of the acting performances are very well executed or convincing, but given the genre of the film, the whole product still manages to be kind of entertaining.  Hopkins is a master of cheese and his skill set fits perfectly in this movie as the crazy unorthodox priest who would be the type to answer his iPhone in the middle of an exorcism (this actually happens!).



There are little to no significant technical or performance achievements to note in this film, but if you are looking for a cheap thrill in the middle of a January abyss, then The Rite may be what you are looking for.  By no means is this an endorsement of this movie, but in relativity to the cinematic boneyard at the theaters this or any winter, The Rite isn’t so bad.



Rating: *1/2


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