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Home Blog Popcorn Parent Movie Reviews Movie Review: The Rite (PG-13)

Movie Review: The Rite (PG-13)

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By Mary McCarthy

You get the feeling Anthony Hopkins took a look at the script, did an internal check to see if he could still knock a horror film out of the park at age 73 like he did 20 years ago (in his 1991 Silence of the Lambs Best Actor performance), shrugged his shoulders, and thought to himself ‘yeah, I still got it.’

And he does.

The Rite is an exorcism movie. Like other exorcism movies (sarcastically referenced in the film, actually), it has your typical Catholicism, bendy-limbed possessed, and anguished priests, culminating in a big scary exorcism at the end. No need for a spoiler alert- people who like exorcism movies (raises hand) know the drill.

Swedish director Mikael Håfström (1408, Evil) brings us this ‘based on a true story’ film about a young priest, Father Michael Kovak (played by Colin O’Donoghue) an atheist who sends an email to quit becoming a priest right before graduation. His professor priest threatens he will have to pay back the $100k in priest student loans unless he stays in. It’s suggested maybe he could become an exorcist if being a regular priest seemed too boring, sort of like becoming a teacher in a low-income school district, only working with Satan instead of inner city kids.

Kovak was apparently presented only with the career options of embalming corpses  like his dad or becoming a priest and performing exorcisms to avoid student loans, goes to Rome and studies under the Catholic Church’s #1 unorthodox exorcist (atheists get the ‘extreme priests’), Father Lucas Trevant, played by Hopkins.

O’Donoghue is completely cardboard as the main character, showing more emotion when encountering a McCafe in Rome than he does when encountering major death and tragedy. Hopkins’ performance (particularly in the last 30 minutes of the film) is so brilliant that perhaps the director ‘balanced’ it with a much less dynamic actor. Much. Less. His character is underdeveloped- though we know he’s had past childhood issues, they aren’t explored in depth. There’s a scene right before the end where Kovak goes into the hall and tells his journalist pal Angeline (well portrayed by Alice Braga) that he ‘isn’t sure if he can do this,’ and I thought to myself ‘What? Act well enough opposite Anthony Hopkins in the final scene?’

The possessed (pregnant 16-year old) girl Rosaria is excellently portrayed by Marta Gastini, a Hollywood newcomer I’m betting we’ll see again soon. While the special effects and makeup on Hopkins are superb, his physicality and emotion are simply what make the movie worth seeing. In his 117 films, Anthony Hopkins has only won that one Oscar for unforgettably playing Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Oscar hates horror and the film (not noteworthy enough for any other Academy consideration) is coming out way early in the running, but could his 20th anniversary performance put a Best Supporting actor golden statue on his mantel?

The Rite is Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material, violence, frightening images and language including sexual references. I was surprised to see the PG-13 rating-it must really have been on the borderline of “R,”.. though “REALLY, REALLY SCARY” isn’t a reason for an R rating, some of the more intense sexual references like the inference of incest, are. As a parent, on this one, I’d have to say I believe it should be limited to older teens.

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