Last night we watched The Rite, a 2011 film starring Anthony Hopkins and Colin O’Donoghue (who, my older daughter pointed out, plays Captain Hook on ABC’s Once Upon A Time). The premise is that a young seminary student is recruited for a special exorcism seminar at the Vatican. He’s lost his faith, but attends under pressure. Being the Doubting Thomas of the class he is dispatched to see the work of crusty Welsh priest Father Lucas who performs many exorcisms (and even makes house calls.) Demonic shit goes down.
A school for exorcists? Exorcist Academy? THAT would be an interesting movie. Unfortunately, the action moves from the fancy, hi-tech Vatican classroom (Ah…that’s where all those offerings to the collection plate go, I thought) too quickly and the rest of the film takes place off-campus so to speak. There’s some scary stuff–but nothing I didn’t see in The Exorcist. Like the first film we watched (Dark Mountain), this is such familiar ground that it’s almost a reboot, but not quite, and the original gets a jokey reference (“What did you expect? Pea soup?”). Still, Hopkins is fantastic, and if you’ve missed him as Hannibal Lector, you should watch this movie. Just don’t expect to be scared. Bottom line: I didn’t even need the Afghan of Doom.
What is there to really see in a movie about exorcisms that we haven’t seen before? Boy is too chicken shit to tell his Dad that he doesn’t want to take over the family business, a mortuary. Instead, he wants to go to college. But the only college good enough for the family is if he is going to seminary school to be a priest. Play with little boys, or play with dead people. You decided. So he schemes to go to seminary school, get his Bachelors in whatever the hell it is you do to become a priest, and then decides he doesn’t want to take the oath. So right away the dude is a passive aggressive pansy. Instead he gets blackmailed into going to a exorcism school at the Vatican. Blackmailed by a man of the cloth. Probably one of the most believable moments in the film. While a school on exorcism sounds sort of cool, he isn’t there long where he gets sent to do some on the job training with an old crusty priest played by Anthony Hopkins. All the exorcism stuff from there on out, was the same formula we have seen before. How many times can we see a person tied down while a man of cloth attempts to force the demon to leave? Acting wasn’t bad, but the scare factor just wasn’t there during this one, and honestly, I was bored to the point where I was fighting to stay interested in it.