Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dollar Bin Splurge of the Week: The Rite (2011)

By Eric Polk of The Audio Descent podcast-
Finally! I've watched a GOOD horror movie. Though, in reality, The Rite, is more psychological thriller then blood and guts.

Directed by Mikael Hafstrom, and based on a novel The Rite:The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio. This movie inevitably will be compared to The Exorcist, but it does hold its own.

Michael Kovak, disillusioned with his father and home life, decides to enter a seminary school and abdicating his vows upon completion, thereby getting him a free college degree. Four years pass and Michael is being ordained to the diaconate at the seminary. However, after ordination he writes a letter of resignation to his Father Superior, citing a lack of faith.

While the Father Superior is attempting to catch Michael on the street, he trips, causing a biker to swerve into the path of an oncoming car. The young woman, believing Michael to be a priest after seeing his clerical garb, asks him for absolution. Unable to refuse, Michael comforts her performs the ritual absolving her sins. Seeing how calmly he handled the situation, Father Superior tells Michael he is called to be a priest, whether Michael believes this or not; he later approaches Michael with an invitation to travel to Rome in order to attend a class on exorcism. Michael reluctantly accepts after being told by Father Superior that he will be levied a $100,000 student loan if he leaves immediately, but that if he still desires to resign from his position after taking the class, then he will be free to leave.

During classes, he meets a young woman, Angelina, who is also taking the course. He soon learns that she is a reporter who has been asked to cover the course for an article in a newspaper. Realizing Michael is a skeptic and is very tentative in his faith, Father Xavier later asks Michael to see a friend of his, Father Lucas, who is a renowned exorcist. Michael agrees and meets Father Lucas at his home, where he sees one of the priest's patients: a pregnant sixteen-year-old girl. It is later revealed that she was raped by her father, which lead to her possession. However, Michael remains skeptical, even after witnessing several preternatural events, such as the girl spitting up three long nails and fluently speaking English, and pointedly reminding Michael of his loathing of his father and the last patient he performed embalming on.

He later speaks with Angelina again, who asks him to relay the information that he gets from Father Lucas to her, as she has tried to get an interview with him many times now but has been refused, and Michael declines. Meanwhile, the possessed girl's condition worsens, which prompts Father Lucas and Michael to have her taken to a hospital for further care. There, Father Lucas performs another exorcism on the girl while Michael observes; they leave the hospital room together with Michael leaving the hospital and Father Lucas staying overnight outside of the girl's room. Late that night, she miscarries, and the baby dies from cardiac arrest and the mother via blood loss. Disheartened, Father Lucas feels he has failed her. After Michael sees this he decides to confer with Angelina.

After the death of the young woman, Father Lucas begins behaving strangely, exhibiting signs of demonic possession. Michael and Angelina later finds him sitting outside of his house in the rain. Father Lucas takes them into his house and, knowing himself to be possessed, tells Michael that he needs to find Father Xavier in order to perform the exorcism. Angelina and Michael try desperately to contact and find Father Xavier; however, they learn that he is out of contact for 3 days.

After the death of the young woman, Father Lucas begins behaving strangely, exhibiting signs of demonic possession.

So unlike The Exorcist, this demonic possession-subgenre movie focuses more on the priests, and Michael's lack of faith. It is good, but to me, if it had not been for Anthony Hopkins' performance, especially in the climax, The Rite would be an average film at best. Still, I recommend it.


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