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#2: The Rite

Exorcists are fascinating. However, there are few riveting movies dealing with exorcisms. It may be that critics unjustly compare every exorcism movie to the classic, The Exorcist (1973). And that’s unfortunate. The Rite is one of those movies that critics bashed because it wasn’t gory, slasher, violent enough. Instead, critics and audiences should have evaluated on its own merits, which are many. The Rite is an interesting look into the Catholic Church’s not-so-secret exorcists and their training.

Matt Baglio’s book, The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, debuted in 2009. It was quickly optioned for a movie. It follows Father Gary Thomas as he heads to Italy to train as an exorcist. Ultimately, Father Thomas participated in over 80 exorcisms. Indeed, the Devil is at work and seeking to possess as many as he can. The Catholic Church is one of a few qualified religious organizations properly equipped at handling exorcisms. Baglio’s book was altered to fit Hollywood’s formula.

Rated PG-13, The Rite is a hybrid horror/drama film. The premise is a young seminary student, played by Colin O’Donoghue, is approached by Father Matthew (Toby Jones) to travel to Italy and train in the Church’s exorcism practices. While there, Matthew meets Father Lucas Trevant (powerfully portrayed by Anthony Hopkins) who is exorcizing a demon from a pregnant teenager. Matthew has to reconcile his meh attitude about God and if the Devil truly possess people. He’s a skeptic on all levels.

The movie treats exorcisms as the serious stuff they are. There isn’t a one-and-done ritual. The movie is enjoyable because it doesn’t rely on pea soup for jump scares.

Filmed on an estimated $33 million dollar budget, the film generated nearly $100 million worldwide. Catch it streaming on Netflix.