Inspired by true events, “The Rite” follows skeptical 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.
Directed by Mikael Håfström (“1408”), “The Rite” is a supernatural thriller that uncovers the devil’s reach to even one of the holiest places on Earth. Contrafilms’ Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) are producing the film. The screenplay was penned by Michael Petroni (upcoming “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”), inspired by the book by Matt Baglio.
In case a little Roman Catholic Church history helps, in 2007 the Vatican announced plans to educate clergy in the rite of exorcism. Officials of the Roman Catholic Church said they wanted priests trained and educated to expel demons in every diocese. Stunningly, they revealed they receive an estimated half-million exorcism requests annually.
In this film, the story focuses on seminary student Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) who is a skeptic when it comes to exorcism school at the Vatican. His path crosses that of Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins) who becomes a tool in “educating” him and exposing him to the darker and baser realities of life, including demonic powers.
Father Lucas brings Michael along to witness an attempted exorcism of a pregnant 16-year-old girl named Rosari and we learn she was possessed when her father impregnated her. They are not successful at first and it is revealed the process could take months or even years. One of the positive elements of this film is that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are evoked to combat the evil force. The fact the filmmakers take the church seriously and evil powers as well is to their credit, even though the movie is definitely a Hollywood production and the demon forces are made to seem so mighty that one wonders if, at least in this film, the powers of God are much stronger than that of His enemies. The church would say a definite yes but I suppose Hollywood needs the drama and special effects of voices and bodies writhing in order to keep some viewers’ interest.
The film is not awarded our Dove Seal and of course this is because there is at least one use of the Lord’s name in vain along with other disrespectful references made, and also the demons become sexually vulgar while possessing their victims. The “other worldly” voices and the writhing of victims is exaggerated in this film. We suggest viewers go see “Yogi Bear” or wait until a good family film opens, and hopefully that will be within the next week or so.