Starring Anthony Hopkins, Colin O’Donoghue and Alice Braga
Directed by Mikael Hafstrom (1408)
Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material, violence, frightening images, and language including sexual references
Appropriate for ages 15+
When a young priest (O’Donoghue) considers dropping from the priesthood, he is sent first to Rome to study exorcism in the hope of strengthening his belief. When the professor senses his reluctance to believe in God or the devil, he sends him to work with an old priest and exorcism specialist (Hopkins).
I’m not sure why exorcism films are still being green-lit, because after all, there have been a slew of them in the last couple of years and they’ve all bombed. This film attempts to get more to the heart of The Exorcist, which is convincing a young priest that while he may not believe in the devil, the devil sure believes in him, but due to many misturns, fails to ever scare or deliver the goods.
This film has a lot of potential. After all, it’s hard to find a better thespian than Hopkins and the rest of the cast isn’t bad either. Also, placing the film in Rome gives it some street cred. There are even some nice creepy moments placed here and there. But then the movie attempts to fool the viewer into thinking like the young priest and the confusion doesn’t help the movie in the least. Also, the addition of the female journalist, played by Alice Braga, not only interferes with the plot, but distracts what could have been a very frightening moment.
I think that in their goal of getting a PG-13 and hopefully widening their audience, they forgot that this genre has to be rated R to be truly effective. The devil is not PG-13. In fact, he would push the limits on an R rating. This toning down of the violence, language, and scares only waters down the film to the point where it is just merely interesting and not goose pimple-inducing.
So while I really wanted to like this somewhat original take on the sub-genre, I found myself picking out too many of its overall problems. C+