It’s Hannibal Lector meets Satan. That should tell you how disturbing “The Rite” is, from its sinister beginning to its horrific climax.
Starring Anthony Hopkins, the newest movie about exorcisms, Catholicism and the people who are affected by them is perhaps one of the most insightful—and truthful—looks into the subject. It will definitely have those educated by the Catholic Church crying into their hands as Satan manifests himself in various ways on screen.
Depending on what you believe, the movie could either be terrifying or just a slightly eerie drama. The movie lacks the almost requisite cheap thrills on which most horror films today seem to gorge themselves. Instead, it provides a dark, menacing tone throughout.
If you really believe in the devil, exorcisms and the like, even the more basic scenes of exorcizing in the movie will have you frightened. Hopefully even those who don’t believe may find some scenes—or at least Hopkins—just a bit creepy.
The story relies heavily on the Catholic Church. Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue), raised all his life in a funeral home by only his widowed father decides to join seminary school—with every intention of leaving before he takes his vows. He refuses to inherit his father’s business, but doesn’t believe his father will give him money for college.
Four years later, the father superior of the seminary refuses to let Kovak go because of his potential, and instead sends him to an exorcism class in Rome because the Catholic Church has decided they want an exorcist in each diocese.
Kovak, an admitted atheist, gets sent to Father Lucas Trevant (Hopkins) after the priest in charge of the classes realizes more unorthodox views may suit Kovak better. He assists Lucas with specific, horrifying exorcisms until it’s clear that the devil is closer and more present than either would like to believe.
Deep, personal performances are given by both O’Donoghue and Hopkins, as both go through major changes throughout the movie. The struggle is clear within O’Donoghue throughout the entire film and Hopkins can translate ten different emotions with one simple look into the camera.
The movie isn’t as smart as it could be, however. There are many plot points that could have been extended, and the tone could be more sinister to truly convey the deadliness of the plot. As the movie progresses, there is definitely lost potential for a smart, well-put together thriller, even though it is much more intelligent than many in its genre.
It’s not the best movie, but it presents a mostly honest look at a phenomenon that is highly debated in religion. It manages to get inside of your head and make you think twice before turning off the lights when you get home. In the end, that’s the key to making a good scary movie.