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The Rite (2011)


Average Rating: 4.3/10
Reviews Counted: 159
Fresh: 33
Rotten: 126

Critics Consensus: Anthony Hopkins is as excellent as ever, but he's no match for The Rite's dawdling pace and lack of chills -- or Colin O'Donoghue's tentative performance in the leading role.

Average Rating: 4.3/10
Reviews Counted: 32
Fresh: 7
Rotten: 25

Critics Consensus: Anthony Hopkins is as excellent as ever, but he's no match for The Rite's dawdling pace and lack of chills -- or Colin O'Donoghue's tentative performance in the leading role.


Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 51,958


Movie Info

"The battle against the Devil, which is the principal task of Saint Michael the Archangel, is still being fought today, because the Devil is still alive and active in the world." -Pope John Paul II "The Rite" is a supernatural thriller that uncovers the Devil's reach to even one of the holiest places on Earth. Inspired by true events, the film follows seminary student Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue), who is sent to study exorcism at the Vatican in spite of his own doubts about the controversial … More

PG-13 (for disturbing thematic material, violence, frightening images, and language including sexual references)
Mystery & Suspense , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Matt Baglio , Michael Petroni (II) , Michael Petroni
In Theaters:
May 17, 2011
Box Office:
Warner Bros. Pictures/New Line Cinema - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Rite

All Critics (159) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (33) | Rotten (126) | DVD (9)

This is a dreary metaphysical drama dressed in the vestments of a religious horror movie.

Full Review… | February 23, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

Oooh. Scary.

Full Review… | January 29, 2011
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic

The Rite goes wrong in every way.

Full Review… | January 28, 2011
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Starts glumly before flipping into supernatural camp.

Full Review… | January 28, 2011
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Despite an impressive cast (excluding the excruciatingly dull O'Donoghue, a newcomer from Ireland), "The Rite" is the sort of misfire that Hollywood has long buried in January.

Full Review… | January 28, 2011
New York Post
Top Critic

A run-of-the-mill chiller that spends an inordinate amount of time flirting with unconventional scare tactics before sacrificing all of its ingenuity to become the latest in a long line of "The Exorcist" clones.

Full Review… | January 28, 2011
Washington Post
Top Critic

Though thoroughly predictable, this film is not to be taken too seriously.

Full Review… | October 2, 2013
7M Pictures

Poor character development, a thin plot and predictability make this one a forgettable film.

Full Review… | July 24, 2013
We Got This Covered

A geniunely creepy film that takes faith and its subject matter seriously.

Full Review… | June 30, 2013
Big Hollywood

This is a movie about priests fighting the evil Baal demon. That's not a spiritual journey "suggested by true events." That's a Tenacious D song.

Full Review… | June 23, 2013

Although Hopkins shines when his evil-infused priest exhibits low-level nastiness, his climactic exorcism scenes don't ring true and aren't very frightening.

Full Review… | February 15, 2013

[Hopkins] stumbles through his entire acting range - from lazy, stilted line delivery to balls-out mentalist improvisation.

Full Review… | September 27, 2012

Dull and overlong at times, but also scary when it needs to be.

Full Review… | January 29, 2012

Hopkins' character approaches his job like a weary pest-control specialist worn down by years and years of driving off a persistent cockroach that just keeps crawling back.

Full Review… | September 9, 2011
American Profile

Playing like a chilling short story, an intriguing central relationship between the leads makes up for what it lacks in pace or impact.

Full Review… | September 1, 2011
The National

Packed with a few good old fashioned jolts, "The Rite" is an atmospheric film that is kept on track by the performance of Anthony Hopkins.

Full Review… | August 16, 2011

It takes half-an-hour to bring Hopkins into the fold, and it's only then that the film begins to get anywhere near interesting.

Full Review… | July 14, 2011
Digital Spy

doesn't completely suck

Full Review… | July 7, 2011
Film Freak Central

A lousy genre picture...

Full Review… | July 6, 2011
Cinema Crazed

Parades about with a self-seriousness at odds with a second-half dominated by veiny-faced, limb-contorting special effects and screaming, screaming, screaming.

Full Review… | June 5, 2011
Lessons of Darkness

As the god-doubting theologian sent to Rome to learn exorcism as a way to conjure up his missing faith, a less charismatic figure couldn't be found.

Full Review… | May 19, 2011
Cinema Signals

Turning what should be a meditation on faith into a demon-possession flick probably seemed like a safe box office bet, but it also robbed The Rite of the opportunity to rise above what we usually get in movies about exorcisms.

Full Review… | May 17, 2011
Aisle Seat

Predictable and exaggerated, with some minor saving graces

Full Review… | May 15, 2011
Movie Habit

Since this movie was so exhausting, I took an extra amount of joy in the brief jolts of electricity I saw -- namely the random violence and weird jokes.

Full Review… | May 13, 2011

You'll find no swiveling heads or green vomit here, although there are a few scenes that stretch credibility by going in that direction.

Full Review… | May 6, 2011
Movie Metropolis

Despite Hopkins' balmy performance, this scare picture is too serious by half. In place of supernatural hocus-pocus we get artsy-fartsy set design, hoof prints in the snow.

Full Review… | May 5, 2011

Audience Reviews for The Rite

Once again Anthony Hopkins plays that cranked out dude this time as a priest. Based on true facts. excellent movie 5 stars

Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

Welcome to the twenty-first century. Or the cinematic era when nearly every horror film HAS to revolve around either "found footage", blood and guts, ghosts, or exorcisms. THE RITE falls under the fourth category, and there is hardly anything new or inventive.

This film, I must say, was terribly scripted. Scenes depicting a man standing in front of a McDonald's smiling, and a cell phone ringing in the midst of an exorcism, I do not know whether to say they are intentionally or unintentionally funny. I'll just say I'll expect those two scenes to appear in the next SCARY MOVIE.

Ranked #4 worst of 2011.

Full Review:

Alexander Diminiano

Super Reviewer

This average horror movie starts quite promising, avoiding cheap exploitation and holding our attention with a scary premise. However, it eventually sinks into commonplace in a generic third act that is so typical in exorcism stories, making the whole genuine effort of the first half seem in vain.

Carlos Magalhăes

Super Reviewer

People, and Americans in particular, seem to have this odd fascination with the Old Testament of the Bible, and in particular Demons and their eviction; i.e., exorcism.

I'm as guilty as the next guy; having a good college background in theological matters I enjoy the philosophical arguments over the nature of good and evil.

Having read Wm. Blatty's riveting novel long before Linda Blair started spewing pea soup, this psychological brand of horror has always held an interest for me, especially when done right - eschewing shock value for a more cerebral delving into the nature of evil. This is why the first Exorcist film has stood the test of time, while the sequels, going for shock and awe, were so easily forgettable.

In the case of The Rite, you begin with an earnest enough back-story - Michael, the son of a mortuary owner (Colin O'Donoghue) wants to escape the family business, discovers that he can get a free pass to higher learning if he goes to a Catholic College - under the pretext of wanting to become a priest.

Of course Michael is an unbeliever, so after acing all his classes he gives notice that he will not be pursuing a life in the clergy. A series of incidents then follow, and Michael is coerced into traveling to Rome as the Vatican is secretly hunting for more exorcists. Not very believable, but, while things are a bit too pat and slickly presented, I suppose that since the very nature of the film's theme is indeed questionable, you could give this setup a pass.

The head of the Exorcism classes is a friend of Michael's college dean, so he takes a special interest in the lad, sending him to Brother Lucas, in yet another odd role for Anthony Hopkins. I'm going to break from the story here into a little side trip concerning Sir Hopkins. I've been a fan ever since he first hit the screen, as the eldest son Henry in The Lion In Winter. Through many a film including the near perfect Howard's End, he seemed to embody his craft, sinking into a role completely. And then came Hannibal Lector, who some say is the greatest villain portrayal on film. Indeed, Hopkins was the perfect choice to portray Harris's villain - cerebral and yet with a slightly out of whack sensibility that could be construed as the embodiment of evil.

It was the perfect role for a true thespian, giving Hopkins the opportunity to grandstand without seeming to do so. Unfortunately, he's been doing riffs on the same role ever since, and The Rite is no exception. His Brother Lucas is quirky to a fault - serious one moment and then throwing off bon-mots the next. I assume that Hopkins has made the choice to play "quirky", and to be certain he does it well, but here it does the film a bit of a disservice, as you're swayed into watching a character study, when the film should be more about Michael and his doubts and, perhaps, faith.

I will say that the film is beautifully filmed and there is enough of a philosophical question at the heart of the film to hold your interest, though the questions are nailed home (and if you've seen the film, excuse the pun), instead of played out through a more concise story - it's almost as if, in the attempt at realism, where everything must have an explanation, the film loses credibility - I suppose some things one must take on faith - as the film points out when Michael views Hopkins performing an exorcism on a pregnant girl and exclaims "is that all there is?" To which Hopkins replies "what, you were expecting spinning heads and pea soup?" Ah no, but this is a perfect example of a serious film that makes too many a wrong step (Hopkins included), and ends up playing false for all its attempts at realism.

I will also point out that there is a huge, gapping continuity error when Michael enters Rome. There's a nice travel log segment, with Michael in a cab seeing the sights as he careens towards the Vatican. Unfortunately, they get things out of order, going from the Coliseum to Castle St. Angelo (which is right next to the Vatican), and then somehow a scene of the baths of Calicalla gets shoehorned in, even though the baths are back on the other side of the Coliseum. I hate it when there's sloppy editing like that! Then, to make matters worse, there's the requisite shot of the front of St. Peter's, making it appear that Michael is going to enter the Vatican through the church's front door - ah no, a visiting priest would enter around the corner, by the residences (even if you ARE named after the arch-angel).

Just before the credits role you get a totally bogus, reality TV narrative - one of those "and this is what they're doing now" type things - which is absurd in a work of fiction and shows that this film played it just too slick - surely not an Emily Rose or The Exorcist. That this film is "based" on actual events (which is a polite way of saying "hey, we made up 99% of this stuff, but somewhere, even we don't know where, there just might be a scene that actually happened"), just makes the whole mess seem even more absurd.

paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

The Rite Quotes

Father Lucas Trevant:
You do not speak to it. It is the devil.
– Submitted by Evan T (3 months ago)
Michael Kovak:
I prefer to believe people lie to themselves rather than face the truth.
– Submitted by Frances H (2 years ago)
Father Lucas Trevant:
Knowledge of the unknowable. It's the quickest test for possession.
– Submitted by Frances H (2 years ago)
Father Xavier:
Admittedly, it's very easy to confuse psychotic illness with possession. It's up to the exorcist to discern the difference.
– Submitted by Frances H (2 years ago)
Father Lucas Trevant:
What did you expect? Spinning heads and pea soup?
– Submitted by Cliff I (3 years ago)
Father Lucas Trevant:
The terror is real Michael, it is.
– Submitted by rob g (3 years ago)

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