Film: The Rite

I should be working on my thesis, I have a chapter due on Tuesday. I’m not concerned. It’s like a paper, and you know, it’ll be done and it’ll be awesome.

In the meantime, Paul and I finally went to the movies again…I insisted we go and see The Rite, because I go and see all the Anthony Hopkins movies.

I really liked The Rite, it was about exorcisms, which I am very into. I was “lucky” enough to brought up with just enough old world religion to find demonic possession scary. So basically, this is what we have –

Also, I spoil movies like it’s my job – so, you know, sorry.

The Rite

A young guy works as a mortician (which was one of my Mom’s dream jobs – mortician or butcher, make of it what you will.) more so, he’s from a line of morticians. He’s not a happy mortician so he decides to go to…seminary. Michael goes off to seminary, and does pretty well. After four years of work, he decides this whole Catholic priest gig might not be for him, and tries to leave. He writes an email, and the next day he witnesses a tragic car accident, in which a vehicle hits a bicycle, the woman on the bike is dying and asks him to administer her last rites, which he does (despite not being a “real” priest yet, he’s got the spiritual know-how). Just when we think this will turn him around and he’ll become a happy priest, he gets sent to Rome to participate in a new program to train up lots more exorcists, because there are literally demons going apeshit.

Now, Michael is very personable, and very good looking, and is made out of doubt. Anyway, long story short, he gets sent to learn from Father Lucas, who is an old priest who lives in a ramshackle home, surrounded by partially feral cats and performs “unorthodox but effective” exorcisms. As usual Anthony Hopkins is awesome, and it’s probably just me, but sort of hot. So he lets Michael observe and help out with an exorcism, of a young, pregnant girl who is apparently possessed. It’s the usual possession gig, contorting, lewd statements.

Michael doesn’t believe, he think she needs psychiatric help because he realizes her pregnancy is the product of abuse and incest (not unreasonable, apparently possession and psychiatric trouble look uncannily similar.) Eventually, the demon wins the game. He also gets to observe the exorcism of a young boy who claims to have nightmares of a red-eyed mule kicking him, and he’s covered muley looking bruises. Lucas breaks his pillow and retrieves a tiny frog (now those of you with a good background in demonology might be getting close to figuring out what we’re dealing with…cats…frogs…if you’re not, don’t be hard on yourself.)

Anyway, Michael’s dad dies, the boy predicts it, and the next thing we know, he’s having dark visions, and suddenly Father Lucas is possessed. For real.

Naturally, it falls to Michael (because everyone at the Vatican has mysterious popped off on holiday) to find his faith and deal with it (with the help of a beautiful, female reporter.) I think we all know what happens, Goodness prevails, but not before Anthony Hopkins gets to be really awesome and possessed, more lewd comments, blaspheming, crude gesticulations, upturned crosses – it’s fantastic, classic, exorcism related fun.

I really like all this contorting, vomiting stuff, but again, I have to ask – why? Why are demons doing this? I understand, every soul counts. I’m not arguing with Satan’s business plan, I mean it obviously works like a charm. We eventually find out that the primary demon making trouble is Ba’al, he’s kind of a big deal. The first and principal king of Hell, in charge of the entire Eastern area, it’s a corner office job for a demon.

“Hey Ba’al, buddy, you wanna job this week?”
“Oh, sure, Satan, what do you have in mind?”
“Well, I have this pregnant teenager, and an eight year old, who really could use some tormenting.”
“Really. An eight year old and a pregnant teenager.” *pause* “seems kind of…like grunt work…”
“Oh” *sigh* “Well, it’s in Rome, you picky bastard. You could pester some priests.”
“Ugh, I don’t know, I’m so busy, and tired all the time, being First King of Hell…”
“Get out of here, I’m the fucking Dark Lord, bugger off and stop complaining.”

It just sounds like it sucks. Also, I maybe the degree with which one can make mischief while possessing a body is more limited than we imagine, because frog generation, pallor, spitting, and shouting obscenities is less than I imagine. Maybe Hollywood is making out like it’s less dramatic than it is, maybe in real life, demons are dismembering, raping, pillaging – making serious trouble. I just don’t know. Either way, The Rite was excellent. I read one review that said it started off well, and then went “too crazy”. Yeah, that’s sort of what horror movies do, the climb towards a dizzying climax of grotesque. It did a good job.