Michael is a soon-to-be priest sent to Rome to study exorcism. He’s at a crossroads of his faith, but soon after starting to witness exorcisms under Father Lucas he begins to question his nonbelief in the devil. This comes to a head when he and Father Lucas are both confronted with possession. Can Michael stop the demon before it’s too late? Find out in… The Rite.
How?! Michael never really even wanted to be a priest. But it was either that or helping run his father’s funeral home, so celibacy it was. While he excels at the academics of the seminary, his profound skepticism about his own faith put him on the road to failure. But after witnessing Michael provide relief at the site of an accident, one of his teachers decides that maybe Michael is meant for something bigger. Enter exorcism school (note to self: write Exorcism School). He’s sent to Rome to study exorcism and due this skepticism is sent to study under Father Lucas. Suffice to say he starts to see some crazy shit, most pointedly in the exorcisms of a pregnant woman who seems to be in particular distress. One night, upon returning from an exorcism, they hear that the young woman is in the hospital and when they get there she is in the midst of a powerful possession. Later that night she and her baby die and Father Lucas is despondent. Michael, meanwhile, is dealing with his own tragedy as he gets word that his father has died. He attempts to head home but his travels are disrupted. Returning to Rome amidst a plethora of supernatural phenomena, Michael finds Father Lucas in full on DEFCON 1 level possession. Unable to get a hold of anyone else, Michael is forced to perform the exorcism himself and totally nails it because guess what: he does believe. And like Dumbo before him, the power was within himself the whole time. Hooray. THE END.
Why?! God. I thought about just leaving it at that, but I’ll elaborate. The whole film can be summed up in the overused quote: the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. It’s all about belief, brotha. Once you get past that point apparently Baal ain’t got shit on you.
Who?! Literally this is so boring that there aren’t even characters to be like “wow, isn’t that an interesting character.” The least they could have done is throw me a pope. The best I can come up with is the fact that the demon depicted here is specifically Baal. So if we ever want to do an angels and demons challenge then… I guess we can mark Baal off the list. Let’s see apparently he is the commander in chief of the armies of Hell and *puts on glasses* Grand Cross of the Order of the Fly. Well then.
What?! You’re probably thinking, “a ‘serious’ film about exorcism? There is no way we have a rock solid product placement… it’s not like they would have him walking the streets of Rome, fresh from seeing demonic possession, and have him espy a McD’s. A gleam would hit his eye as he remembers the fresh taste of a McCafe coffee, the taste of home. They couldn’t do that, right?… RIGHT?!” Wrong, actually. That’s exactly what happens.
Where?! I’m not sure where in America the first part of the film is supposed to take place. In the book it was California, but that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case here. Looked more like Jersey or Pennsylvania or something. Regardless, this film is a Rome/The Vatican film through and through. Not the first exorcism film we’ve seen in BMT where people fly to The Vatican to learn more about the process… it’s like the place is used as currency: you know things are for serious with exorcism because The Vatican teaches it… so it must be true. A-.
When?! Patrick noted in the quiz for the film that this has one of the craziest temporal settings we can remember. When Michael gets the news that his father has had a stroke and he attempts to get home, his plans are foiled by an eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, which would place that point in the film on April 15th, 2010 when air travel was first disrupted. Now that in itself isn’t too crazy for a setting, but given the context of the film there is only one conclusion that the viewer can possibly make: some force made that volcano erupt so that he couldn’t get home. Maybe Baal wanted Michael to stick around so that he could also possess him… or maybe God was forcing Michael back to Rome to help Father Lucas. Either way we can rest assured that that volcanic eruption in 2010 was unnatural. The Rite told us so. B+.
I did not like watching this movie. It was boring. It just kinda meanders along with our main character being like “I just can’t believe it” even as a girl throws up black liquid that turns into nails and a horse looks at him with gleaming red eyes. Man… either you believe in this shit or you are going crazy. It’s one of the two. Somehow Anthony Hopkins, the same man who barely got out of bed to act in Bad Company, gave the liveliest performance in this one, particular at the end when he’s all crazy possessed. Gotta give him some props. But that’s about it. As for the book? Well, the less said about that the better. It’s a terrible book. Laughable even, as it reads more as making fun of those that believe in exorcisms than anything else. The main argument it makes in favor of exorcisms being real? More people want exorcisms now than ever so they must be real, right? Riiiight. Can’t believe I read that terrible book. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! This is at least the second BMT film where a priest is sent to the Vatican to attend their very new (and very cool) exorcism course … that’s crazy. Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t really know this film existed prior to making the preview. I certainly don’t recognize the main actor in it … so that bodes well. I was getting strong The Devil Inside whiffs coming off of this. I’m pretty sure it has the same origin story: someone found out about the Vatican’s spiffy new exorcism class, yada yada yada, they wrote a screenplay. I think the only real hope is that it is actually secretly good, because Ebert liked it. What were my expectations? Please be good. It really is the only hope. Otherwise it is boring. There isn’t an in between here, either Ebert is right and it is good, or everyone else is right and it is boring. And I hate boring movies. Hot take, I know.
The Good – I think if you don’t view this film as a horror film, and especially if you don’t view this film as endorsing the reality of possession and exorcisms … then there is a kernel of something good here. It is a slow and methodical look at a man turning towards faith in the face of the horrific realization that possession is real. Cool idea I suppose. Hopkins is quite good in the film, and, as inevitable as the final twist is, the ending is a better possession/exorcism finale that you see most of the time. Best Bit: Hopkins.
The Bad – I think the movie is made with the explicit idea that the audience buy into possession and exorcisms. Is that how all exorcism movies operate? I don’t know. I liked The Exorcist a lot, and I don’t think you necessarily have to buy into the religious bits of the film to understand the horror of “my daughter is sick and science can’t explain it” which is at the core of that film. In The Exorcist there is a deep understanding that what is happening to Regan could just be a devastating mental illness. Here they get really close to getting to that point, with the main character indicating that the “possessed” individuals might just be mentally ill people faking it. But in the end it feels like the movie scoffs at it and leans too heavily into possession/exorcism/catholicism being really explicitly real and that people who don’t think so are just arrogant know-it-alls or something. Plus it is kind of boring and the lead actor is a whole lotta nothing. Fatal Flaw: Possessions are fake and the movie seems like maybe it doesn’t think so.
The BMT – I always love adding a film to a mini-genre. In this case exorcism focused horror films, or I suppose more broadly religious-themed horror films. This is actually maybe one of the better ones? It is hard to tell. We’ve watched some real stinkers and this one basically is just one wink and nod about all this probably being fake from me declaring it either not-that-bad or merely boring. That’s pretty good. Did it meet my expectations? I think so. I was far more intrigued by this film than I thought I would be. It is a bit boring, sure, but there are enough fresh ideas in there to make it one of the better bad religion-focused horror films we’ve watched.
Roast-radamus – A true classic Product Placement (What?) as the film is genuinely brought to you by McDonald’s and their delicious American style coffee. When you’re off learning exorcisms Italian stizzle, and you’re yearning for the taste of home, there’s nothing better on a chilly Roman night than a McCup of delicious McCoffee. Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba I’m lovin’ it. A solid Setting as a Character (Where?) for Rome, where all the big exorcism action is happening. And a Worst Twist (How?) for the inevitable possession of father Trevant at the end of the film. Probably closest to Good.
Prequel, Sequel, Remake – Prequel. Michael mentions that his entire family have been morticians and priests. Well, this is truer than he ever knew! Flashback, Michael’s grandfather in World War II, naive with innocent blue eyes shining, enters the military as a chaplain. When a strange blue eyed charm starts being found at the scene of gruesome massacres, though, the American military sends Michael’s grandfather out to investigate. Ultimately, he discovers a plot by a cabal of eeeeeeevil satan worshipping priests to possess soldiers with demons to create super soldiers for the Nazis. Along the way Michael’s grandfather picks up a precocious Welsh boy sidekick (you guessed it! It’s Lucas Trevant!!) and they take down the cabal before they can possess Hitler with Satan himself. Ba ba baaaaaaa! Years later, Michael’s grandfather is killed during an exorcism, leaving behind a son, Istvan, who vows never to dabble in the exorcism rites. Smash cut to Michael entering Rome from the first film. Kovak Origins: The Rite 2. The subsequent sequel would then serve to dig further into the blue eyed charm and the (still surviving) cabal behind it, and the destiny of the blue eyed exorcists that Michael descends from.
You Just Got Schooled – Check out the Legend of Hercules Hall of Fame speech. I got that together this week in lieu of expanding my exorcism knowledge via a good exorcism movie.