Movie Review: The Rite (2011)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2011 supernatural thriller starring Anthony Hopkins.

Synopsis: Even though he isn't interested in becoming a priest, Michael Kovak decides to join the seminary so he can get his college education and escape his father's funeral home business. After graduation, he is recruited to travel to Italy and participate in a course on exorcism. When his religious doubts get in the way, his professor instructs him to spend time with a veteran exorcist.


I had originally planned on watching the movie "Sharknado" last night but, as is often the case, I ended up glancing at some other choices prior to making that commitment and, as a result of that, decided to watch this movie instead. This is a film I've considered in the past but have always been a bit reluctant to watch, mostly because it sounded like something that had the potential to be a bit dull. However, after seeing it, I have to say I was actually really impressed by it.

The thing I think I liked best about this movie was the way the writers kept the exorcisms from being over-the-top. In particular, I liked how the exorcisms weren't necessarily one-and-done events and, instead, often required multiple visits.

This helped the film immensely because it did leave room for doubt. Was Father Trevant (Hopkins) actually helping people? Or, was he a con artist who was taking advantage of people who were mentally ill? This made Michael's (O'Donoghue) skepticism and gradual acceptance much more believable.

As I mentioned before, I was concerned the movie would fall into a bit of a rut, both with the constant science versus religion debate and some of the down time between exorcisms. That, however, was not the case. The film actually managed to keep a relatively fast pace that prevented that from happening.

In addition, as the movie progressed, the demonic possession scenes actually ended up being pretty intense. The scene with that pregnant teenager (Gastini) in the mental hospital was actually a little chilling. And, when Trevant predictably ended up possessed, Hopkins showed he still has some pretty amazing acting ability, to the point I did wonder if the movie would end up with a happy ending or would have a tragic, violent end. It was definitely something that surprised me.

Final Opinion

This was a surprisingly good movie that my wife and I both enjoyed watching. If you like movies involving exorcisms, it's one that is worth taking the time to watch.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 07/19/2016, StevenHelmer
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