TITLE: The Rite
STARRING: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O’Donoghue, Alice Braga, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones
DIRECTOR: Mikael Hafstrom
STUDIO: Warner Bros. Pictures
RUN TIME: 112 min
RELEASE DATE: January 28, 2011
By Seth Miller
Staff Writer, Part-Time Ninja
It’s always tough to make a movie about exorcisms, because every film about them has to deal with impact that The Exorcist had. That film has defined this type of horror movie for years, and it’s tough as hell to make an interesting film about exorcisms that doesn’t at least borrow one aspect from that classic. Some filmmakers can create a truly scary experience, and others fall back on clichés to make a lackluster movie; The Rite falls into the latter category.
The movie follows a young priest named Michael (O’Donoghue) who is just using the priesthood to get away from his undertaker father and get a free education. Unfortunately, his teacher (Jones) calls him out on the fact that he doesn’t believe in God, and makes him go to Rome for an exorcism seminar to build his faith. During his time in Rome, Michael works with Father Lucas (Hopkins) and performs exorcisms around Rome. Michael starts to question his beliefs while Father Lucas begins to exhibit signs of demonic possession.
This movie has a strong opening and looks like it has a somewhat interesting story to work with, but it doesn’t. The creepy opening in the funeral parlor and the background we get for Michael is interesting, and if it was used effectively, it would have made for a better movie. Also the first few scenes with Hopkins were done very well, and they give us some interesting exorcism scenes that have not been done as much in movies, and walk the fine line between whether the possessions are supernatural or delusions of a crazy person.
But whatever is interesting in this movie is slowly stripped away until all that we are left with is a bland and boring film that people have seen before. The long process of exorcism and the little details we get along the way that make the first part entertaining are thrown away, and that makes the final part of the movie a cliché that people have seen before. The interesting parts of the story we get in the beginning, which had some potential do not add up to much in the end. The characters start off interesting but very quickly become one-note; the young priest believes in science but some crazy dreams and an exorcism turn him into a believer, and the old priest has seen it all and hates all this modern science that contradicts him. Hopkins is okay right up until the end when he goes from slightly scary to over the top. O’Donoghue isn’t bad, but he’s bland and does not have much charisma.
This is not a completely horrible movie, but it abandons anything that is interesting towards the end. Mix all this with a really bad product placement for McDonald’s, the questionable “inspired by true events” tag and you get a film that is possibly worth a DVD rental, but not worth spending your money on at the theater.
Front page image from rottentomatoes.com.