The Rite (Blu-ray Review)

All movies related to exorcisms will undoubtedly have to answer to one question – was it as good as the Exorcist?  In this case, the answer is definitely no, but it’s not a complete waste of time either.  I’m glad I got the chance to watch it and I enjoyed the film.  I really liked the overall feel and atmosphere of the movie.  It was serious, dark, Catholic, and it’s set in Rome.  As a Catholic myself, I find all things Roman Catholic to be solemn and to be respected.  Maybe that’s why I’m willing to buy into this film more than many other reviewers might.  As a Catholic child I was often told that movies related to exorcism were not to be watched as it would make a person more susceptible to possession.  It’s possible that the lingering fears from an admittedly lapsed Catholic have me thinking this film is creepy even before it starts.


As The Rite begins, we are reminded that it is inspired by a true story.  I feel like far too many movies these days proclaim that they are inspired by true events which usually isn’t the case anymore as the events described have been modified so much that they no longer resemble what actually happened.

The Rite follows Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) as he chooses between the two family careers paths – mortician or priest.  He decides that being in the mortuary business like his father (Rutger Hauer) isn’t for him and he chooses the priesthood.  From the very beginning Michael points out that he can bail on becoming a priest before his final vows.  Clearly, Michael hasn’t heard the calling that many do.  It seems as though being a Priest will be just a job to him, and it’s one he isn’t sure he believes in.

Michael decides to tender his resignation, but a freak accident and a superior’s threats of turning his scholarship into a student loan lead him to undertake exorcism school.  He heads to Rome where they teach priests to become exorcists and is quickly partnered with Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins).  They begin right away since Father Lucas has been working with a young pregnant girl that he believes is possessed although Michael comes to believe that she needs psychological help.

The Rite’s biggest problem is the script.  It’s poorly written and extremely predictable.  It tries to get into too much detail with too many of the characters.  Then it misses the important details – like the exorcism itself.  I didn’t need to know why the writer working on the story cares about exorcisms.  I did need to know how the exorcism ritual works and why, for example, they keep asking the demons name.  The screenwriter also glosses over why you must absolve everyone in the room of the exorcism itself and how the demon can jump from person to person.

As expected, Anthony Hopkins is by far the best actor in the film.  The filmmakers are extremely lucky he signed on to this project.  With the script lacking as it was, Hopkins didn’t have much to work with but he saved the film anyway.  The creepy, CGI demon effects are good but some of the physical body contortion (for lack of a better term) effects make me think they are trying too hard to copy The Exorcist. Father Lucas even jokes saying what did you expect –pea soup?   I am unsure whether the CGI would have been necessary if the script was better.

I was far more intrigued with the special features than the movie itself.  I learned that two months before his death, Pope John Paul II, issued a mandate to every Bishop in the world to select and train an exorcist. It also turns out that rolling eyes, foaming of the mouth, tremors, vomiting of nails, inhuman voices, and the image of the man with a dislocated jaw are all aspects taken from real life exorcisms.  Exorcism schools also actually exist.  The man The Rite is based on performs  2-3 exorcisms a week in Northern California.  All of this information lends a lot of credibility to the film and it’s unfortunate the screenwriter left most of that out.


This 1080p High Definition 16×9 (2.40:1) transfer is a very moody atmospheric movie and there are a lot of things to applaud visually.  The Rite is presented in .  The detail in the Roman buildings is excellent and you are able to see every line and wrinkle in Anthony Hopkins’ face. It’s a very dark film overall and fortunately has a nice deep black levels that are solid.  Skin tones look life-like and consistent and color (when it’s present) is well presented.  The film has a gritty bleakness to it and this transfer aid in pushing that feeling.


The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is impressive.  With demonic voices, whispers, and bumps in the night, The Rite is a great test of your surround sound system.  Eerie noises and echos will fill your room and startle you unexpectedly.  All of the speakers are well used and this was an incredibly immersive experience.  The dialogue was at a steady level but could have been slightly louder in a couple of instances.

Special Features  

Had they given us a full length documentary instead of a 7 minute teaser this section would have gotten 4 out of 5 at least.  Usually I’m complaining about a lack of bloopers but in this case it would have been inappropriate.  I don’t want to see actors break character and laugh during exorcism.

The Blu-ray includes the following features:

  • The Rite:  Soldier of God – Meet Father Gary Thomas, the Vatican-Ordained Exorcist whose life story inspired the film.  Go inside the actual Exorcism Academy and hear eyewitness accounts of real-life exorcisms.
  • Alternate Ending – The alternate ending is virtually the same as the ending in the film but with a few additional creepy touches.  They went as far as putting a big sticker on the sleeve advertising the chilling alternate ending, but it really isn’t that chilling.  It’s kind of a let down, based on the fact that it got a whole sticker.
  • Deleted Scenes – A collection of approximately 13 minutes of deleted scenes. It’s clear why most of the scenes were cut from the movie.  None of them add any real depth or information to the story.

Final Thoughts  

According to the extra titled “The Rite: Soldier of God” the life of Father Gary Thomas, Vatican-Ordained Exorcist, inspired the film.  I would have preferred the story of his life.  The Rite missed a lot of the important details yet provided other information that wasn’t necessary.  Overall, I did enjoy the experience. I was initially sad I missed this one in the theater but now I realize that owning the Blu Ray is sufficient especially when you factor in the immersiveness that the Blu-ray’s audio mix provides.

Order your copy today!


1 Response to “The Rite (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. BIg BOys Oven

    it must be exciting! I can’t wait to watch it ini my living room! wow!