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The Rite

Year: 2011
Studio: New Line Cinema
Director: Mikael Håfström
Writer: Michael Petroni
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue, Cirián Hinds, Toby Jones, Rutger Hauer
Spoiler
Spoiler!

1408 director Mikael Håfström wants you to know this isn't just another exorcism film. Star Anthony Hopkins as exorcist Lucas Trevant delivers the film's USP when he tells novice demon-terminator Michael (O'Donoghue) 'what did you expect, spinning heads and pea soup?'

It's an attempt to dispel the very long shadow cast over the genre and its success in doing so is also one of its downfalls. It's not a horror movie despite a few jump scares – more of a moody thriller, a genre where the creepy horror of exorcism just doesn't feel at home. If we go and see an exorcism movie you expect, want, spinning heads and pea soup, don't we?

Michael's faith is shaky during his studies so his pastor (Jones) sends him to an exorcism course in the Vatican. Much is made of basing the film on a true story about how the Vatican issued a top secret plan to install an exorcist in every Catholic diocese in the world, but if I know anything about life, it was probably just a memo that never went anywhere by some jittery senior bishop who'd watched too many movies as a kid.

He goes to assist the eccentric Father Trevant and of course sees things he can't explain during the repeated sessions with a young local girl. After awhile it also becomes obvious he's going to have to take the bull/devil by the horns because the old man is going to fall victim to a demonic intrusion himself. It's the classic Harry Potter/ Star Wars set-up – young novice learns under the wing of kindly father figure before the latter dies/disappears and leaves the former to become his own man.

That's when Hopkins finally gets to stretch his grandstanding wings. He's a good actor with the right lines and brings a lot that isn't on paper, but he's also a (self-confessed) ham and I'm almost disappointed when he doesn't issue some shouty profundity like 'She's not my curse... not anymore', 'He was the greatest Alexander of them all' or 'I strip you of your powers... and I cast you out!'

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