Director: Mikael Hafstrom (2011)
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O' Donoghue, Ruger Hauer
Find it: IMDB
A grumpy Anthony Hopkins teaches a skeptical American student the ways of exorcism in The Rite, a classy horror drama that lacks pea soup but has Anthony Hopkins saying "awesome dude" and bitchslapping unsuspecting children.
Michael Kovak (Donoghue) flees his family home to become a trainee priest. Or whatever it is you call kids in priest school. Mind, his heart's not in it and the chap plans to drop out before graduating. The Church refuse and make Mike take a course in exorcism in Italy. There he encounters Ciaran Hinds, a potential love interest and Anthony Hopkins surrounded by cats. Hopkins's Father Trevant is an expert exorcist and, despite his grumbly ways, takes Michael under his wing. During his first exorcism, something happens to make Kovak doubt his own scepticism. Is it possible that demonic possession could be a real thing? Well, with Father Trevant starting to act a bit peculiar, Kovak had better make his mind up.
I'm not the biggest fan of exorcism movies, but I enjoyed The Rite. Personally, I don't see the need for further exorcism flicks beyond The Exorcist and maybe Repossessed, but if I must watch something with priests and sweary demons in, The Rite will do fine enough.
Its cast of quality actors certainly helps. Colin O' Donoghue is good as priest kid Kovak, as is ladyfriend Alice Braga. Small roles for the likes of Toby Jones and Ciaran Hinds stress the movie's dramatic intentions. Whilst I would liked to have seen more of Rutger Hauer (as Kovak's daddy dearest) there's more than enough of Sir Anthony Hopkins to go around.
I suspect The Rite would have been a much duller movie without Hopkins in it. Little wonder his face is on the poster, since he gives the movie's best performance and is entirely engaging and good throughout. He's on the same autopilot mode he was during Red Dragon, but even half-arsed Anthony Hopkins is good Anthony Hopkins.
He's assisted by some nifty exorcism scenes and fairly tense drama. Hopes of some good kitty-related murders (Rome is full of them apparently) are dashed (no crappy Let The Right One In style kitty murders then), but The Rite has its fair few moments of nasty. The best of which:
Sir Anthony Hopkins punches a child in the face.
I think I've been waiting my whole life to see Sir Anthony Hopkins punch a child in the face. It made me LOL in ways only kiddy violence can. Otherwise, it's a slow, thoughtful movie enlivened by elegant performances, a good bit of demonic horror and Sir Anthony Hopkins punching a little girl in the head. In other words, it's a bit of all-Rite.