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Movie Reviews

The Rite



Released: 28th January 2011

Directed By: Mikael Håfström

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O’Donoghue

Certificate: 15

Reviewed By: Luke Walkley

Directed by Mikael Hafstrom, the man behind the Samuel L Jackson/John Cusack picture 1408 and Clive Owen film Derailed, steps up to direct the latest instalment of Exorcism based horror/thrillers The Rite.

The Rite stars Colin O’Donoghue as Michael Kovak a seminary student from America who, struggling to find his faith, travels to Italy to train as an Exorcist. Whilst there, he meets with Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins) an experienced Exorcist who, through his own experiences with the demonically possessed, shows Michael the Rite of Exorcism and how it can affect those involved in more ways than one.

The Rite’s trailer was rather interesting; a different look at the familiar exorcist theme seen in numerous movies over the years. It took the fairly different approach of focusing on the training of an Exorcist, rather than the exorcisms themselves. Along with Anthony Hopkins’ experience, the film looked to be an interesting watch.

Now I am not a fan of horror films; I usually choose not to put myself through the potential risk being scared. That’s not to say I don’t see the appeal of the adrenaline rush that some people enjoy from horror films. Therefore I was lucky that this film is not a horror: by any stretch of the imagination. A stray cat jumping at a window is by far the ‘scariest’ scene in the sense that it has the loud music that comes with the usual jumpy scene. This being said, it’s included in the trailer and left most of the audience bracing themselves as they knew what was coming.

The opening scenes are beautifully shot: close ups of a morticians work, dressing a body before a funeral, an abandoned playground. An interesting opening and one of the most original I have seen of late. However, the main point I took from the film is that O’Donoghue isn’t a bad actor at all, but the focus is always on Hopkins when he is in the scene. Hopkins maintains his usual professionalism, however that did not help The Wolfman and it does not really help here. He resorts to Hannibal Lecter-like mannerisms as if it is all he has to offer in this role.

The narrative is well directed, containing interesting flashbacks to Kovak’s past with his father, however the film then suffers with the lack of exploration into Kovak’s and Father Lucas’ mental deterioration. A few minutes of a red-eyed mule and footsteps in the snow are not enough to show the ‘otherside’ of Exorcism. Instead it resorts to the clichéd body contortion and demonic swearing from teenage girls.

The film never really rises into a sufficient climax; the main events just seem to happen out of the blue. Like I previously mentioned, the lack of depth surrounding the descent into madness that supposedly comes with possession by the devil, doesn’t allow the audience to become attached to the plight of the characters involved.

The Rite isn’t an awful film, but it is a far cry from the original Exorcist film which deserves the tag of horror film. An interesting idea which, unfortunately, isn’t delivered to its full potential. The performances are decent enough, but insufficient depth causes a lack of viewer involvement in the emotions that should have been explored and therefore the entire film suffers. The Rite doesn’t deserve to be exorcised, but there are far better films to possess your time.

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