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Short Movie Review – The Rite

June 29, 2011

I think a lot of people are truly curious about this movie and want to know, before they rent it, if it is going to offend their Catholic Christian sensitivities.

I will just post briefly that I have finally watched it and, like all others, it was not what I suspected, nor what it was marketed as: a horror film.  The movie actually moves at a slower pace than one would expect punctuated by brief intervals of Exorcism scenes.  I was borderline disappointed that there wasn’t more action in the film until the latter part of the movie where the young seminarian starts to experience evil occurences.

The bottom line is that, yes, the movie is fine for any Christian to watch.  It has brief moments designed to startle your heart, but which are never really associated with the scenes of Exorcism itself.  While supernatural in what it shows with possession (which is what happens in possession) there is not anything – really – that I would say would offend any Catholic sentimentalities.

The journey of the seminarian is the role which many take in this world regarding their scepticism about the existence of the Devil.  I think the biggest issue people have shown concern about was the idea (from the trailer) that the senior priest (Hopkins character) becomes possessed himself.  What one has to recall is that the movie needs a format.  It needs a way to challenge the seminarians disbelief in God in a way that leaves him no doubt about the existence of the Devil, but what is more important, the belief that God is stronger and has overcome through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Also, if you listen closely to what Hopkins says at the end of the movie, you’ll hear why his possession was possible.  Although, it is brief, explanatory, and only marginally a true statement of possibility.

I would state that anyone watch it who feels so inclined without being worried about it being offensive.  It is not a horror film really.  If anything it’s a drama film with a dark theme of Exorcism (which is not even at its center until the final scene) and a couple of “shock value” moments.  It really takes on the subject of doubt in faith and how God works with us, and how He has conquered the fallen angel.

So, watch it.  Rent it.  Anyone over about 15 should be good, scared maybe, but most “well-rounded” teenagers have already seen plenty anyway.  If your children are exposed to “average” interactions such as public school, individual cell phones, unrestricted access to the internet, cable tv, and video games, then there shouldn’t be any problem with this film.  In fact, they’ll probably be bored and leave since much of it is dialogue heavy.  If they’re not exposed to a lot of “shocking” or “extreme” situations, then the Exorcisms might be a little frightening to them.

Overall, I’d say that it truly makes one aware of how sinful we really are and how susceptible we are to sin and evil even if we’re never qualified to be considered “obsessed” or “possessed” but merely “tempted”, we have already given Satan a foothold in our lives.  It made me want to go to Confession, be cleansed of my sins, and banish any dark stain upon my soul for the Devil to take advantage of.  I found the last scene of the movie to be reassuring.  The entire movie we’ve seen the horrible effects of evil in this world and how prevalent it is in this world.  It’s dark, it’s frightening, and it’s frankly depressing.  Then, at the very end we are given the long-awaited moment when we’re shown and told what we seem to have forgotten, that Jesus Christ is more powerful.  That he has conquered the world and the devil by his perfect sacrifice, and that he reigns at the right hand of God.

I had a thought that night as I was praying the Chaplet of St. Michael that comforted me greatly.  The Devil can tempt you, he can physically attack and beat you, he may even be allowed to kill you, but he can’t take your soul.  God has that.

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