New film offers the most realistic, orthodox Hollywood depiction to date.by STEVEN D. GREYDANUS
“There aren’t levitating beds, spinning heads or pea-green soup,” Father Gary Thomas said to me in a recent phone conversation.
Father Thomas is the real-life California exorcist whose training experiences with a veteran exorcist in Rome were documented in journalist Matt Baglio’s 2009 book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist. The new supernatural horror/thriller film The Rite, starring Anthony Hopkins as a veteran exorcist named
Father Lucas, is loosely inspired by Father Thomas’ experiences.
The Rite is also the latest in a long line of Hollywood films in the exorcism-movie subgenre inaugurated by William Friedkin’s 1973 landmark film The Exorcist —the movie famous for levitating beds, spinning heads and pea-green soup.
A few recent films, including Scott Derrickson’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose, have taken the genre in a more restrained, realistic direction, and The Rite continues this trend, offering the most realistic, orthodox Hollywood depiction of exorcism to date. Where Emily Rose conflated months of exorcisms into a single dramatic episode, The Rite shows that battling possession can last weeks, months or even longer...