Inspired by true events, this supernatural thriller follows a seminary student (Colin O'Donoghue) sent to study exorcism at the Vatican in spite of his own doubts about the controversial practice and even his own faith. Only when sent to apprentice with legendary Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), who has performed thousands of exorcisms, does his armour of scepticism begin to fall. Drawn into a troubling case that transcends even Father Lucas's skill, the young seminarian glimpses a phenomenon science can't explain or control - and an evil so violent and terrifying that it forces him to question everything he believes.
The Rite is an American horror film based on “true events” about exorcism. It tells the story of would-be Priest Michael Kovak (Colin O-Donoghue) who embarks upon his religious study simply in order to receive a free college degree. Upon completing his initial studies in a seminary in America Michael sends a letter to his Father Superior resigning his Priesthood on the grounds of loss of faith. However an accident forces Michael to call upon his powers of absolution and causes his Father Superior to make one final attempt at ordaining Michael into the Priesthood. Michael must go to Rome and take part in an exorcism course, once completed, if he wishes, Michael may leave his position yet take with him a $100,000 student loan.
It is in Europe that Michael’s faith truly begins to be tested, with the help of the ever creepy Anthony Hopkins. Already a skeptic Michael can not help but search for rational reasons for the odd behaviour displayed by those who are possessed. Here the film attempts to go beyond what many religion based horror films have in the past and Michael begins to question the victim’s beliefs and the true causes of their ailments. For a time this concept is indulged, with Michael citing child abuse and psychological damage for the changes in victim’s behaviour. However as time goes on Michael finds it harder and harder to answer such questions.
When Father Lucas (Hopkins) is possessed Michael is once again forced into behaving like a Priest, having to perform the exorcism himself.
Unfortunately this film had the potential to be quite creepy but due to it’s rating (US PG13/UK 15) the film lacks any sense of tension and real horror; not even it’s cacophonous soundtrack or Hopkins star persona could stop this film being just a bit too pretentious for its own good.