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Exorcism continues with “The Rite”

February 11, 2011

The exorcist genre continues to evolve with Mikael Håfström’s new movie, “The Rite.” After discussing the movie with others, I noticed that everyone compares recent exorcist movies with “The Exorcist,” directed by William Friedkin in 1973. I don’t think that is fair because both movies go about portraying exorcism in very different ways.

“The Exorcist” focuses heavily on shocking visuals, such as the girl spinning her head completely around or causing all the objects in her room to float. In addition, the movie seems to imply that someone can be exorcised in one day.

“The Rite,” is much more subtle and focuses less what the demon does and more on what the demon says. The demon knows the secrets and inner fears and feelings of the main characters and uses that knowledge to attack them.

“The Rite” portrays exorcism as a process that takes months or years. These factors create a movie that is much more realistic and serious. The movie even makes fun of “The Exorcist” when a priest says, “What were you expecting? Spinning heads and pea soup?”

“The Rite” compares demons possessing people to a thief robbing a home. Essentially, both do not want the person to know he is there, invading the house or the person. Again, this is very different from “The Exorcist” where clearly there is something supernatural going on, especially when her head turns completely around. “The Rite” leaves room for one to doubt.

The story focuses on Michael Kovak, played by Colin O’Donoghue, who flees from his home to seminary school. The problem with this decision is that Michael is not sure of his belief in God. Through a turn of events, Michael finds himself in Rome studying at an exorcism school. After annoying his teachers through his continued lack of faith, finds himself apprenticed to Father Lucas, who performs exorcisms on a daily basis.

The movie focuses heavily on the conflicts of doubt and faith. Michael is faced with evidence of possessions being real (young girl spitting up crucify nails) and tries to come with up excuses (she obviously swallowed them before hand). Michael’s lack of faith almost results in his downfall when he is confronted by the demon because, as the tag line states, “You can only defeat it when you believe.”

I did not really like Michael as a character because his lack of commitment was annoying. What kind of person spends four years at a seminary school when he does not believe in God?

However, Father Lucas, played by Anthony Hopkins, was fantastic. His character was interesting and complex and Hopkins’ performance was well done. I can easily state that Hopkins is the main reason I enjoyed this movie.

In the end, I did thoroughly enjoy this movie because it was interesting to see a more realistic practice of exorcism. While not one of the best movies currently out, I do believe it is worth seeing.

Features Editor

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