Rental Review - The Rite

The Rite (2011), PG-13, 114 minutes - My wife loves Halloween, so each year we tend to skew our movie viewing towards the creepy and scary during the month of October (as I'm sure many others do).  This year the first such film we watched was the Anthony Hopkins starring The Rite.

While Hopkins was the big draw to this film, as can be seen by his top billing and sole inclusion on the movie poster, he's really just a supporting (albeit very important) character.  The Rite tells a story - supposedly based upon actual events - that follows an American seminary student named Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue) as he travels to the Vatican to take a class on exorcism.  Kovak begins in an interesting place: he attended seminary school to appease his father (Rutger Hauer) who had given him the choice of either carrying on the family business at the funeral home or joining the ministry.  He questions his faith and plans to resign from the seminary but is blackmailed into attending the exorcism course by his adviser Father Matthew (Toby Jones) with the threat of his scholarship being reverted to student loans.  He quickly catches the eye of the course instructor Father Xavier (Ciarán Hinds) by repeatedly questioning how the church knows that someone is possessed as opposed to being mentally ill.  Xavier sends Michael to visit a very experienced exorcist, Father Lucas Trevant (Hopkins), with the hopes that his questions will be answered after observing Father Lucas 'in action'.  While in Rome, Michael also meets Angeline (Alice Braga), a journalist who is taking the course with hopes of obtaining evidence of demonic possession for a story she is writing.  As the two of them experience strange events caused by supposed possessions, they realize that there may truly be something other than mental illness at the root of the observed cases.

The Rite boasts a highly regarded cast and employs a handful of creepy and jolting moments.  I was previously unaware that this film was inspired by actual events.  According to the end of the film Michael Kovak is still a practicing exorcist (or was at the time of the film's release).  It isn't the first flick that I would recommend for a horror/mystery Halloween marathon, but it is probably worth a watch if that genre is your thing.  Considering the quality of many similar films, you could do a lot worse.  


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