The Rite (2011 film)
|Directed by||Mikael Håfström|
|Written by||Michael Petroni|
|Based on||The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist|
by Matt Baglio
|Music by||Alex Heffes|
|Edited by||Peter Boyle|
|Box office||$96 million|
The Rite is a 2011 supernatural horror film directed by Mikael Håfström and written by Michael Petroni. It is loosely based on Matt Baglio's book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, which itself is based on supposedly real events as witnessed and recounted by American then-exorcist-in-training Father Gary Thomas and his experiences of being sent to Rome to be trained and work daily with veteran clergy of the practice.
The film stars Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue, Alice Braga, Ciarán Hinds, and Rutger Hauer. Shot in Rome, Budapest, and Blue Island, it was released on January 28, 2011 and grossed $32 million domestically.
Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue) is the son of a successful funeral home owner and businessman, Istvan (Rutger Hauer). Disillusioned with his job as a mortician, Michael decides to enter a seminary and renounce his vows upon completion, thereby getting a free college degree. Four years later, Michael is being ordained to the rank of deacon at the seminary, after which he writes a letter of resignation to his superior, Father Matthew, citing a lack of faith. Father Matthew (Toby Jones), apparently wanting to talk to Michael, attempts to catch up to him on the street. He trips over a curb, causing a cyclist Sandra (Marija Karan), to swerve into the path of an oncoming van, and get critically injured. Seeing Michael's clerical garb, she asks him for absolution before her last breath. The hesitant Michael is unable to refuse; he comforts her and performing a blessing ritual to absolve her of her sins. Seeing how calmly Michael handled the situation, Father Matthew tells Michael that he is called to be a priest despite his unwillingness. He also tells Michael that with the rise in demonic possessions every year, the Church needs more exorcists and says that he has the potential to become one. Father Matthew advises him to go to the Vatican in Rome to attend an exorcism course taught by his friend Father Xavier (Ciarán Hinds). Michael agrees after Father Matthew tells him that the Church might convert his scholarship into a student loan that would cost him $100,000 if his resignation is accepted before he takes his vows. If Michael attends the exorcism classes and still wants to leave, then it can be discussed (hinting that he may be free to leave).
In Italy, Michael meets Angelina (Alice Braga), also taking the course. He soon learns that she is a reporter who has been asked to cover the course for a newspaper article in the Dominican. Father Xavier notes Michael's skepticism and very tentative faith and asks him to meet a renowned friend, a Welsh Jesuit exorcist named Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins). Michael meets Father Lucas at his home, where he also meets one of the priest's patients: a pregnant sixteen-year-old girl named Rosaria, who is possessed and Lucas is trying to exorcise. It is later revealed that she had been raped and abandoned by her father, which led to her possession. However, Michael remains skeptical, even after witnessing several preternatural events, such as the girl coughing up three long nails and speaking English fluently. She even pointedly reminds Michael of the last patient he anointed and of his loathing for his own father. Angelina requests Michael to relay any information he gets from Father Lucas to her, as the latter has always refused to be interviewed by her, which Michael declines. Rosaria tries to drown herself and is hospitalized. In the hospital, Father Lucas performs another exorcism. Rosaria miscarries; the baby dies from cardiac arrest, and the mother from major hemorrhaging. Disheartened, Father Lucas feels he has failed her. After this Michael decides to confide with Angelina.
After Rosaria's death, Father Lucas begins behaving strangely. Michael and Angelina find him sitting outside his house in the rain. Father Lucas takes them into his house and, knowing himself to be possessed, requests that Michael bring Father Xavier to perform the exorcism. Angelina and Michael try desperately to contact and find Father Xavier, but the latter has gone to Civitavecchia for three days. Michael decides to perform the exorcism himself with Angelina. After constant rebuking by the demon and a long, drawn-out fight, Michael regains his lost faith and is able to force the demon to reveal its name, Baal. He completes the exorcism, saying that he believes the demon exists, and he believes in an all powerful God as well. The demon leaves Father Lucas. Michael bids goodbye to Father Lucas, returning to the United States.
The film ends with Father Michael Kovak, receiving a letter that Angelina has published an article on exorcism, and entering a confessional to hear a girl's confession in the church
- Anthony Hopkins as Father Lucas Trevant
- Colin O'Donoghue as Michael Kovak
- Alice Braga as Angelina Vargas
- Ciarán Hinds as Father Xavier
- Rutger Hauer as Istvan Kovak
- Marta Gastini as Rosaria
- Maria Grazia Cucinotta as Aunt Andria
- Toby Jones as Father Matthew
- Chris Marquette as Eddie
- Marija Karan as Sandra
- Torrey DeVitto as Nina
Mikael Håfström began working on the exorcism thriller in February 2010. Håfström began casting in March for the lead roles of Father Lucas and Michael Kovak, deciding on Anthony Hopkins and Colin O'Donoghue. The film was produced by Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) under their Contrafilm Studios company.
The film is based on the book The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Rome-based Matt Baglio, which was published in 2009. To research the book, Baglio participated in a seminar on exorcism by the Vatican-sponsored Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum where he met Father Gary Thomas, a parish priest from Sacred Heart Church in Saratoga, California, who was tasked by the local bishop in San Jose, California to become an exorcist for the diocese. Initially skeptical and reluctant, Father Gary becomes an "apprentice" to a Rome-based exorcist and his skepticism is soon replaced by the cold reality of evil and the ways it sometimes takes the form of demonic possession. The book traces Father Gary's life prior to and subsequent to their acquaintance in 2005 which involved Baglio observing over twenty exorcisms performed by Father Gary. Baglio indicates that the experience in writing the book "was just a very spiritual process and in a lot of ways, it helped me reconnect to the Church and understand the value of faith. This isn't something that is silly and prayer, it's very important."
While Baglio was still researching his book, producers Tripp Vinson and Beau Flynn (who had already produced The Exorcism of Emily Rose) learned about Baglio's book proposal and decided to purchase the movie rights. The producers contacted Michael Petroni (who was one of the writers for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) to write the screenplay. Petroni, a practicing Catholic, coordinated the development of his screenplay with Baglio, who was now writing the book at about the same time.
Director Håfström was invited to direct the film "intrigued by the fact that he would be working from facts, not just someone's imagination." While the film is focused on demonic possession and exorcism, Håfström also believes that "this story is about a young man finding himself and finding his way." In preparation for the film, Håfström attended some exorcisms in Rome although never being present in the actual room, he could hear what was taking place. Father Gary Thomas served as a consultant on the set of "The Rite" and indicated that the exorcisms in the film were "very accurate" with some "expected licenses" taken.
The film was generally well received within the Catholic community although questioning its classification as "horror". The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops noted: "Though shaky on a few details, director Mikael Håfström's conversion tale resoundingly affirms faith and the value of priestly ministry. Yet the effort to showcase the main character's spiritual journey as an old-fashioned chillfest weakens its ultimate impact."
It received negative reviews from mainstream critics, where it has a 21% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 158 reviews stating that while "Anthony Hopkins is as excellent as ever, but he is no match for The Rite's dawdling pace and lack of chills, as well as Colin O'Donoghue's tentative performance in the leading role."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 out of 4 stars and said, "I admire The Rite because while it delivers what I suppose should be called horror, it is atmospheric, its cinematography is eerie and evocative, and the actors enrich it."
- List of ghost films
- Christian demonology
- Demonic possession
- The Exorcism of Emily Rose
- The Exorcist
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