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Inspired by true events, this supernatural thriller follows a seminary student (Colin O’Donoghue) sent to study exorcism at the Vatican in spite of his own doubts about the controversial practice and even his own faith. Only when sent to apprentice with legendary Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), who has performed thousand of exorcisms, does his armor of skepticism begin to fall. Drawn into a troubling case that seems to transcend even Father Lucas’s skill, the young seminarian glimpses a phenomenon science can’t explain or control – and an evil so violent and terrifying that it forces him to question everything he believes.
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My qualification for rating this movie one star is my 30 year study of Spiritual Warfare/Demonology. The movie is based on the book of the same name by Matt Baglio, which is based on real people and events.
Let's get our definitions straight:
"Demon" is a fallen angel, disloyal to God, a subordinate of Satan. They are intelligent spirits without a body. All are evil and have varying powers. They hate God, the Heavenly Host and Humankind.
"Possession" is when a demon is able to influence the body and mind of a human person whenever they want. Many are very hard to exorcise from a human person and much work and prayer (and fasting) is needed.
"Exorcism" is running the demon(s) out of a human person by an authorized priest using the authorized Ritual ("Rite") of prayer. Sometimes it can happen almost right away, sometimes it takes years of sessions with really tough demons.
While the young priest in the book had a way to go to strength his faith, the movie young priest didn't seem to know why he was a new priest, much less have faith in his God! As such, a very poor candidate for exorcist, as you need very strong faith and belief in God and Jesus Christ, and no unforgiven sin on your soul (otherwise the demons will just tell you to get lost, or hurt you as in the Bible).
The first third of the movie roughly follows the book, but then goes off on a tangent all its own. the rest of the screenplay seems to have been done by a non-Christian or an Antichristian. Many scenes in the movie are not in the book and digress from the theme or are there only for sensational effect, such as the singular case of a young, possessed woman being pregnant by her father, and dying in abject suffering near the end.
The worst part of the movie is the Master Exorcist (Anthony Hopkins), Fr. Candido in the book, becoming possessed himself, hitting a little girl, and looking like some kind of monster, while our apprentice neophyte priest exorcises him. Garbage!! Never happened in the book! This is serious stuff and not to be diddled with. Again, not recommended. Save your money.
I usually don’t like to see these kinds of films; however, when the movie is based on real life events and/or real life people, I tend to make exceptions. If you’re a paranormal buff, You Tube “Fr Vincent Lampert.” He’s also an American exorcist who was featured on “Paranormal Witness.” This particular episode is scary. Fr. Lampert was also trained by the real Fr. Lucas Trevant.
Evil has a real face but often operates unseen, through places, people, animals, things. This may be too much for many modern thinking types in the modern world of psychiatric medicine and diagnosis of schizophrenia, psychosis, etc.
To frame all this within a timeline, we are living in the end times and the shadow of the 100 anniversary of Fatima and its secrets. October 13th 2017 is the said anniversary.
I was impressed only because of my interest in the subject and would have given it possible 3 stars except for Anthony Hopkins usual superior acting, where in his understated way, he manages to steal every scene, even with the softest phrase from his eloquent lips. The special effects were well done and from my readings of exorcisms (real ones), there is incredible poltergeist activities, superhuman strength, and in rare, rare instances of levitation (just like the 1972 movie the exorcist.)
I recommend this film not as a horror film but as a template for anyone thinking of assisting at a exorcist, to make them realize this is for real, not to be taken trivially.