Posts Tagged ‘The Rite’

Deliver Us From Evil part of a long line of ‘true’ supernatural tales

deliverusfromevilBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

The spooky new supernatural thriller Deliver Us From Evil sees Eric Bana play a jaded NYC police officer. “I’ve seen some horrible things,” he says, “but nothing that can’t be explained by human nature.”

That changes when he meets a renegade priest (Édgar Ramírez) who convinces him a plague of demonic possession has infected the Big Apple. Working together, they combat the evil forces with exorcism and faith.

Deliver Us From Evil is based on a nonfiction book of the same name authored by Ralph Sarchie (with Lisa Collier Cool), a sixteen-year NYPD veteran who investigates “cases of demonic possession and (assists) in the exorcisms of humanity’s most ancient—and most dangerous—foes,” in his spare time.

“Before going out on a case,” he writes, “I put aside my gun and police badge and arm myself with holy water and a relic of the True Cross.”

Sarchie’s story joins a long list of exorcism movies with roots in true events.

The Exorcist, the granddaddy of all demon possession movies, is based in part on the 1949 case of an anonymous Maryland teenager dubbed Roland Doe. He was determined by the Catholic Church to be under a diabolical spell when strange things started happening — levitating furniture and holy water vials crashing to the ground — after he played with a Ouija board.

Exorcist author William Peter Blatty first heard about Doe’s story when he was a student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. in 1950. He drew from newspaper reports and a diary kept by the attending priest, Fr. Raymond Bishop, as the backbone of his novel.

The character of Father Lankester Merrin, the elderly priest and archeologist played by Max von Sydow in the movie, was based on British archaeologist Gerald Lankester Harding. Blatty said Harding “was the physical model in my mind when I created the character, whose first name, please note, is Lankester.”

In recent years hits like The Rite, starring Anthony Hopkins as a real life exorcist tutor, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose with Tom Wilkinson as a priest accused of murder when a young woman died during an exorcism, are based on true events.

Finally in The Possession, a haunted antique carved “Dybbuk” box — containing an evil, restless spirit — turns the behaviour of a young girl (Natasha Calis) from angelic to animalistic. The owner of the real-life box offered to send it to producer Sam Raimi but the filmmaker declined. “I didn’t want anything to do with it,” he said. “I’m scared of the thing.”


the-rite252882529If there was an after-school special about exorcism “The Rite” would be it. Its earnest, has a message and there’s even a teenage pregnancy angle.

Based on the book “The Making of a Modern Exorcist,” “The Rite” is the story of Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) a seminary student weeks away from graduation and taking his vows. The trouble is, he isn’t a believer. He went to the seminary to get out of the family business—his Dad’s (Rutger “Hobo with a Shotgun” Hauer) mortuary. The men in his family, he says only have two career options—caring for the dead or joining the priesthood.  When he tries to opt out of taking his vows an older priest arranges for him to go to Rome and study exorcism, a sure way, the priest thinks, to reaffirm Michael’s faith. In Italy he meets Father Lucas, a veteran priest and expert in exorcism, who leads his student into a wild satanic showdown.

The holy man with a crisis-of-faith is by now a standard exorcism movie character. We’ve seen it as recently as last year’s “The Last Exorcism” and we’ve seen it done with more spirit (no pun intended) than O’Donoghue conjures up here. Luckily he has Anthony Hopkins, master thespian and expert scenery-chewer to keep things lively. Quick! Somebody get Hopkins some mustard to go along with the ham he’s selling here.

As Father Lucas he’s got the movies best lines and has no problem giving them with gusto. It’s an unexpected performance and rather entertaining.

The movie, however, isn’t trying as hard as Hopkins. It’s not scary, occasionally freaky, but not scary. When Father Lucas asks, “What’d you expect? Spinning heads and pea soup?” I wanted to shout, “Actually, yes Father, I do!” An exorcism movie without those elements is, well, sinful.

Worse than that, “The Rite” is at least twenty minutes too long. It s-l-o-w-l-y builds to an entertaining final exorcism, but the subplot about a pregnant “possessee” goes on too long and the inclusion of a demon mule (seriously) take the focus away from where it belongs—on the relationship between Michael and Father Lucas. That older priest, younger priest thing worked really well in “The Exorcist” and could have here as well, if only the movie was a tad more interesting.

“The Rite” aspires to be a high-minded story about faith but falls flat when Hopkins isn’t on screen. There’s little sympathy for this devil…