“Be careful–not believing in the Devil does not keep you safe from him.”

In theaters January 28, 2011 | Runtime:1 hr. 52 min. | PG-13
Disturbing thematic material, sexual references, language, frightening images and violence

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How long can a man confront evil before it consumes him? Inspired by true events, The Rite follows skeptical seminary student Michael Kovak, who reluctantly attends exorcism school at the Vatican. While he’s in Rome, Michael meets an unorthodox priest, Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), who introduces him to the darker side of his faith, uncovering the devil’s reach even to one of the holiest places on Earth. **

“What did you expect to see? Pea soup and head spinning?”

This is not another typical Hollywood exorcism movie. The creepy factor is still prominent, but instead of using special effects to produce heart-stopping terror the focus is on the intellectual realization that the reaches of darkness and evil are endless in the world. I greatly appreciated the elimination of extreme exaggeration of the possessions used by most movies that turn demons into a joke (think the “spider walk” scene in the new version of The Exorcist).

The disturbing reality of the film was enhanced by a spectacular cast.  I found it very easy to relate to main character Michael Kovak in his skepticism and uncertainty surrounding religion.  Who doesn’t have moments where they question their beliefs?   Today’s society is bent on discovering “truth” at any cost, and unfortunately a great deal of “enlightened” individuals try to discredit religions claiming them to rely on “blind faith” rather than reason and logic.  This is enough fuel for a whole library of argument, so I won’t touch on this issue more in depth at the moment.  Hopefully what you gather is the widespread nature of the thoughts and feelings faced by Kovak.  One area in particular that caught me was his insistence that the actions of the possessed could be explained by some deeper mental issue (as if an issue can be any deeper at the core than the infiltration of the soul by a demon).  While he proposed mental illness or coping issues stemming from some repressed memory, I couldn’t help by think of the book Prozac Nation. Facing a struggle in your life? Don’t worry–there’s a pill for that.

A few side comments:

  • Viewers comments on the trailer include questions wondering why it is always the Christians inflicted—if an individual does not believe in such an affliction, how would they accept possession as a diagnosis?  It would not make for a story at all because their denial would continue and no exorcism would be sought.    A great deal of healing comes through faith and hope that a treatment will work.
  • Many times in the film the possessed would spit up nails.  I couldn’t help but wonder if there was supposed to be a some deeper significance to this than merely the implausibility of such an act.  Jesus was nailed to the cross to cleanse us from our sin and save our souls a place in heaven.  Are those inflicted purging their sins, or is this act a sign from Satan refusing Jesus’ sacrifice?  Perhaps I am looking too deeply into it….

Overall opinion:  I loved it and would recommend going to see it in theaters.  This is rare for me–I’m usually a huge proponent of saving $$ and waiting until it comes out in Redbox (few movies are unworthy of a mere $1 rental).  But the experience was money well spent as the film kept me thinking long after the credits reel.

**Synopsis from Fandago.com

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