The Rite

Posted on 27. Jun, 2013 by in Live Action Cat Films

In The Rite, a movie which conveys the horror of the power of evil, and the Catholic concepts concerning the personification of evil, by making both the protagonist and the audience doubt their perception of reality and thus their sanity, cats play a seemingly peripheral, but perhaps vital role.
When Mike Kovack, a doubting seminarian sent to Rome to take a course on exorcism by a seminary superior first visits his new mentor in exorcism, Fr. Lucas, a Welsh priest who lives in a secluded old house with a flagstone-paved courtyard, a number of stray cats are seen in the courtyard and surrounding area. As Kovack approaches the house, a brown striped cat leaps up against the window, pressing itself against the glass, and hisses loudly, startling him.
one of the cats seen in "The Rite"

It is then that Fr. Lucas answers the door and observes Kovak’s shaken condition. Kovack remarks that he doesn’t particularly like cats, whereupon Fr. Lucas tells him that “Rome is lousy with stray cats”, it is all he can do to keep them out of the house, and he doesn’t bother with giving them names.
Later on, Kovack is invited to witness an exorcism of a pregnant teen girl by Fr. Lucas. When the girl and her aunt arrive, the girl brings food for the cats, and has given Italian names to a number of cats (in all cases, seemingly mixed-breed domestic shorthairs) seen in a doorway leading to an area exterior to the house.
The cats, though their conduct so far has implied that they dislike goodness and benefit by evil associations, do not interfere with, or figure in any way in the exorcism itself.
However, there is a cat in the movie who may bear a tiding of evil, or which one could suspect as the carrier of the demon which would later been seen to possess Father Lucas.
In the scene where this may have happened, Fr. Lucas is shown standing before the bathroom mirror, shaving. A black cat with one white hind foot, distinct from the other cats shown in the area before or since, walks up to him and rubs against him, weaving in between his lower legs. Were this a mundane occurance, and that an ordinary cat, one would think Fr. Lucas would chase or carry the offending feline out of his house with dispatch. Instead, he stops and stares into the mirror, and gives his face a large cut, even though he is using a safety razor. Somehow, the mundane explanation of having potentially gotten fleas from the seemingly feral, but inexplicably familiar, cat just doesn’t explain his reaction.

It is to be noted that cats are not portrayed as entirely or uniformly bad in the movie: in fact, there is one point in the movie when cats seen walking or lounging passively scatter at the seeming approach of evil, their “psychic sense” having “picked up” on the presence before the humans in the area have. The cats are later seen exhibiting normal behavior in the courtyard later on in the movie, as innocent bystanders to Fr. Lucas’s crisis.

In The Rite, cats scurry in Fr. Lucas' courtyard.

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