Michael (Colin O’Donoghue) is a seminary student who is starting to wonder if he really wants to be a priest. Since the Church recently decided it wants an exorcist for every diocese, Michael is sent to exorcism school in Rome. He meets comely reporter Angelina (Alice Braga) and Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), a funny old guy who swears and answers his cell phone while exorcising. He’s currently working on a girl named Rosaria (Marta Gastini) (here, exorcisms can take years). Unfortunately she dies, and the demon possessing her moves on to Father Lucas. Michael is forced to confront his inner demons and, with the help of Angelina, exorcise Father Lucas himself.
As with many demon-themed horror movies, this one is staunchly pro-Christian, putting forth the idea that if demons exist, God must also exist. Father Lucas also brings up that the devil doesn’t want us to know that he exists so that he can manipulate us. He states that he loses faith regularly, but he always finds it again.
There are moments reminiscent of The Exorcist, like when the demon tries to manipulate the junior priest by taunting him with a dead parent. However, the film is pretty unique. It throws out some new ideas for the demon sub-genre, like Rosaria spitting up nails.
There is little in the way of comic relief—most of it comes from jolly old Father Lucas. I was bemused by a scene at the beginning when Michael is getting a body ready for a funeral (his father runs a funeral home out of their house); his father (Rutger Hauer) tells him to “wash up and come eat.” Yum yum—nothing works up an appetite like handling a corpse.
I don’t have any complaints about the film. It’s a serious movie that’s thought-provoking with enough action to keep the viewer going. Hopkins gives a smashing performance, as usual—his creepy possessed reptile face is worth the price of admission.