The Rite

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Rite Movie Poster Image
Demonic horror tale is disturbing, but no Exorcist.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 112 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 17 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Amid the scary/disturbing images and thematic content, the movie's main point seems to be that Michael needs to believe in the devil in order to defeat him. Michael is constantly looking for proof, which is the opposite of faith; it's an ages-old argument, but the movie doesn't really go into it in depth.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Michael signs up for seminary school to escape from his father's undertaking business. After he graduates, he plans to continue running away and avoiding things, but after his experiences in Rome, he learns to overcome doubt and believe in himself -- which lets him begin to do well for others.

Many disturbing images, some involving children and teens. A pregnant teen is possessed by a demon; her body writhes and is tossed around a room. She eventually loses her baby in a pool of blood (hidden from view by bed sheets). A small boy has bruises all over his body, and a possessed priest smacks a little girl across the face (he also slaps around a grown woman). Also, shocking photos and recordings of people possessed by demons and some spooky sequences involving shadows and noises. Discussion of rape and incest.

Two central characters have a kind of sexual tension, but nothing occurs between them. Still, the possessed priest picks up on this and taunts them with it. Discussion of sexual violence.


"F--k" is heard once, and "s--t" is used a few times. Also "d--k," "bitch," "t-ts," and "screw you."


While in Rome, the hero spots a McDonald's and buys a coffee. Another character rebukes him for it and takes him for a "real" coffee.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A priest mentions that he's trying to give up smoking and pops a nicotine pill (or possibly gum).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this horror drama centered on exorcisms (and supposedly "based on true events") pales in comparison -- both in terms of scares and quality -- to horror classic The Exorcist. That said, The Rite does have some disturbing images and violence directed at children and women: A pregnant teen is possessed by a demon and tossed around, a boy has bruises all over his body, and a possessed priest slaps a little girl (he also attacks a grown woman). Language is infrequent but includes "f--k," "s--t" and "t-ts."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byprettylittlestu... August 30, 2020

not the greatest movie ever, but still worth it ^

just another average exorcism movie. not very violent or disturbing. the "worst" would be the possession of a pregnant teen girl & mentions of... Continue reading
Adult Written byHonestreview May 16, 2011
The Movie was quite good.
The official review states that there is some kind of sexual tension b/w the male and female protagonists but that is not so.
Teen, 17 years old Written byscarymoviefanatic April 13, 2011

Teen Review: The Rite

I thought The Rite was a good movie. It wasn't terribly scary in my perspective but it was freaky, like freaky enough that I had to go to the restroom duri... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bylittlemonster98 April 3, 2011
Very disturbing demons, lots of violent imagges of exorcism, lots of sexual innuendo; not a little kid movie

What's the story?

After completing seminary school, Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue) intends to resign, but a pushy priest (Toby Jones) coaxes him into traveling to Rome to train as an exorcist. There, Michael finds his natural skepticism getting in the way of his classes, so his instructor sends him to meet Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), a working exorcist with unorthodox methods. Michael continues to doubt, second-guessing the things he sees; meanwhile, a pretty, equally skeptical journalist (Alice Braga) tries to get him to talk about his experiences. But then more and more strange things begin to happen to Michael that are too close to home. Will he find his faith in time to save himself?

Is it any good?

Anthony Hopkins is truly spectacular in an over-the-top kind of way. Really, the main reason to watch THE RITE is to see Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) back in full Hannibal Lecter-style swing, chewing on his lines and salivating over his verbs, using his blocky body, beady eyes, and naughty troll's smile to suggest terrifying menace. It's too bad the rest of the movie doesn't live up to him.

Though director Mikael Hafstrom does cook up at least one chillingly spooky sequence full of shadows and sounds, his main focus here is on the bland Michael, whose "journey" within the movie isn't much of one: He doesn't believe, and then he does. (The Father Karras character in the original Exorcist takes much the same journey with far more compelling results.) And poor Braga doesn't have much to do as the reporter; but on the plus side, character actors like Rutger Hauer, Ciaran Hinds and Jones suggest more onscreen personality than the script actually grants them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence and disturbing imagery. What effect does it have? Is it scary or thrilling?

  • If this movie is "based on true events," how much of it would you guess was created for the sake of the story? Why might filmmakers claim that something is based on a true story if it wasn't -- or, alternately, why might they alter real events when making them into a movie?

  • How does Michael change over the course of the movie? How does he view both proof and faith?

Movie details

  • In theaters: January 28, 2011
  • On DVD or streaming: May 17, 2011
  • Cast: Alice Braga, Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue
  • Director: Mikael Hafstrom
  • Studio: New Line
  • Genre: Horror
  • Run time: 112 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: disturbing thematic material, violence, frightening images, and language including sexual references
  • Last updated: September 21, 2019

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