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The Rite

  • Film

Time Out says

Financed by the producers of ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’, this is a dreary metaphysical drama dressed in the vestments of a religious horror movie. ‘Suggested by’ Matt Baglio’s book ‘The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist’ – a non-fiction study of the exorcist training school run by the Vatican – this essays the gritty vérité approach of William Friedkin’s ‘The Exorcist’. But it lacks the rigour to scrutinise its supernatural themes with conviction and dismally fails to explore the fine line between demonic possession and psychiatric illness.

Instead, Swedish director Mikael Håfström personifies the clash between religious belief and scientific scepticism by pitting naive trainee priest Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) against veteran exorcist Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins, pictured), who takes as gospel John Paul II’s declaration that ‘the Devil is still alive and active in the world today’. Confronted with real-life cases of demonic possession, including that of a disturbed 16-year-old girl who may have been raped and impregnated by her father, Michael is forced to question his faith in science.

There’s no denying director Håfström’s ability to stage individual scary scenes, as evidenced in his adaptation of Stephen King’s haunted-hotel-room story ‘1408’. So whenever the intellectual argument wears a bit thin, he simply stages an exorcism and cranks up the banging, groaning and gurgling noises in the hope that this cacophony will distract us from our bored incredulity. Meanwhile, the perplexing metaphysical and psychological conflicts explored so movingly in Hans-Christian Schmid’s ‘Requiem’ are lost in the mix, as Hopkins acts like a man possessed and newcomer O’Donoghue is as cruelly exposed as his doubting seminarian.
Written by Nigel Floyd

Release Details

  • Rated:15
  • Release date:Friday 4 February 2011
  • Duration:113 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Mikael Håfström
  • Screenwriter:Michael Petroni, Matt McCoy
  • Cast:
    • Colin O'Donoghue
    • Anthony Hopkins
    • Ciarán Hinds
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