US Catholic Faith in Real Life

The wrong advertising campaign for The Rite?

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I fully admit to being a scaredy cat, and I have no desire to see The Rite.

I don’t like scary movies, and frankly, The Rite is being advertised as a scary movie on TV. In fact, I rejected the opportunity to see the movie for free on Monday at the Chicago screener, so we sadly we don’t have a review of this big “Catholic” movie for you today.

Everything I’ve read about the movie in the Catholic press this week, though, implies that it’s not a horror flick. "I am hoping that this movie will draw more people back to the faith," says Father Gary Thomas, whose story is told in the book, The Rite. I’m wondering if I should have worked up the courage to see on Monday. It’s only PG-13, after all.

Will people who are looking for new version of The Exorcist be disappointed? Will those who are interested in the religious angle be able to sleep at night? What will those who are skeptical come away with from the movie? The actors are saying that making the movie had a spiritual effect on them, but are they just saying this to the religious folks?

The Catholic News Service review says that the two sides of the movies don't work well together. The  priest story, it says, "has been wedged, somewhat uncomfortably, into the mold of a conventional horror movie. The effect is to diffuse -- and slightly diminish -- its valuable underlying message, though enough of that endures to make the picture, despite the objectionable features listed below, possibly acceptable for mature teens."

Frankly, I’m more interested in the movie’s marketing plan more than the movie itself. When Hollywood discovered this large base of faith-based consumers, it started producing movies just for this audience. Now movie companies are marketing big, mainstream movies to a religious audience. But can they balance marketing to secular and religious audiences in two very different ways at the same time?

A weekend assignment for the U.S. Catholic community: If you watch the movie, tell me what you think. Which advertising campaign—horror or religious movie—is most accurate, or do both really fit the film? Should I go see it?