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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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."
- Parents say
- Kids say
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 ...
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?
- 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
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.