In nomine Patris et fillii et Spiritus Sancti...and a large popcorn and coke please.
The battle between God, his clergy, and the Devil, has been a long one and is a popular subject for films. Everyone remembers the film The Exorcist, where two pastors attempt to save the life of a young girl from the grips of a demon, (and if you haven't seen that film I suggest you stop reading this review and go out and see it immediately). The Rite shows us this same battle, and how a man of little to no faith, is thrown into the front lines and taken on a journey of God, his work, and the work of the fallen one himself, The Devil.
The film begins with our hero a mortician named Michael Kovak, played by Colin O'Donoghue who is best known for his performances on TV. He is sent away for a four year seminary school, a kind of "catholic college," where he learns how to be a priest. Even though he is excelling in all his subjects, he has some serious doubts about faith and future and considers leaving. However, he gets persuaded into going to Rome to study abroad, and to learn how to perform exorcisms, which, as you guessed it, he has even more doubts on. On a side note, this film is supposedly based on true events and at this time the Vatican was trying to train clergymen on the rites of exorcism, since there was a rise of them in 2007, at least I think thats why, the explanation goes by pretty quickly. Anyway, Michael is sent by the, professor, teaching the seminar to meet with a man named Father Lucas, played by Anthony Hopkins, who has performed quite a number of exorcisms in his time and to see if he can get some insight on the subject (I'm not too sure what they call the people who taught a seminar like this, I'm just going to him a professor). When Michael meets Father Lucas he assists him on performing a rite on a young pregnant girl named Rosario, who is possessed by a demon. After several other assists with Father Lucas, Michael starts to have strange dreams where he himself starts to see demons and strange creatures. After sometime Father Lucas is starting to show some strange signs that he may not be in control of what he's doing so Michael must come to aid and save his new teachers soul.
Sounds like a scary time but it really isn't
The commercials I have seen for this movie keep telling me, "It's the scariest performance Anthony Hopkins has given since Hannibal Lector," and I'm sorry but I have to strongly disagree. Yes, I'll admit, when he gets possessed by the demon, it gets a bit spooky, but there is a HUGE difference between "scary" and "spooky." The scares in this film are very limited and this film does slow down, a lot, but the performances I saw from the main cast were actually decent. Colin O'Donoghue has a few moments where he looked genuinely scared of the situation he was in, but Anthony Hopkins probably was the one who stole the show. He seems like a perfect guy to be casted in these creepy character roles and his character here justs proves it. He seems very disturbing while performing these exorcisms, but when he becomes possessed I felt like it was a totally new character he was playing.
The back-up cast however is really forgettable. The journalist lady (yes, I forgot her name) was pretty dull and I didn't care for her back story that much. She apparently had a brother who was possessed as well, but I don't think anyone cares at that point. Even Michael's father is forgettable in the sense where we only get about three scenes of him. And finally Rosario, a pregnant woman seeing Father Lucas because she's being tormented by a demon and is taunting her to kill herself and her child, was for some moments boring and the most forgettable of the bunch.
I don't believe this movie trying to convey the message of "God does exist and if you don't follow him, the Devil will get you" I do believe however, that this movie can be viewed by the skeptics and the believers and they could still be moderately entertained by watching this movie and get a little creeped out for the fun of it, but it could turn them off by the pace, the lack of jump scares, and boring performances of almost everyone besides Anthony Hopkins.