Drama (Horror, Thriller)
Running Time: 114 minutes
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O’Donoghue, Ciaran Hinds, Alice Braga, Rutger Hauer, Toby Jones
Directed By: Mikael Hafstrom
Rating: 3 out of 10
A reluctant priest heads to Italy to take an exorcism class.
It is good to see Anthony Hopkins in a horror role again. The problem is this film had no real horror moments. It just had some cheap special effects and makeup that left this critic wondering why they even bothered at all. It is shocking to me that a film with Rite in the title could come off so wrong. The Rite is the story of Michael Kovak. He is studying to become a priest and travels to Italy to take an exorcism course.
An exorcism movie. What an original and refreshing change for a horror film nowadays…I must confess I actually liked this story as it started out. We are introduced to Michael Kovak as he transitions from a mortician into seminary school. It is a weird job change but it is explained and the movie gets under way. Michael is a man that doesn’t fully believe in religion and more importantly he doesn’t believe in exorcisms. I found I liked the reluctant priest angle and was interested in how they were going to develop it. So I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited some more. The story went absolutely nowhere and seemed pointless by the end of the film. Michael teams up with an unorthodox priest by the name of Father Lucas Trevant. Together they treat potentially possessed people through a multitude of exorcism techniques. This is where the movie truly lost me. The exorcisms themselves lacked realism, suspense, fright, blood, and any other word you want to think of during normal exorcisms movies. Certainly the PG-13 rating hurt this angle of the movie but the scenes lacked everything that make exorcisms great. The poor quality sound coupled with cheesy looking makeup lost me from the first exorcism. I never felt the chair gripping fear of the spiritually unknown that makes this genre so cool. A scene with a possessed pregnant lady piqued my interest but quickly disappoints as it only teases the viewer with what could have been.
The acting is okay but the priest characters don’t have the usual strength of character to make this film work. Michael Kovak is played by Colin O’Donoghue and he just seems depressed in this movie. Granted his character is supposed to be sad but it comes across as he doesn’t really like the role. Father Trevant is played by Anthony Hopkins and even he can’t coax anything worthwhile from the story. It seems he is only in this film to add credibility to it and he delivers his lines without conviction. The two of them have a limited chemistry but it really didn’t matter as the story was the clear problem.
So as the movie rolls along Michael is forced to deal with some interesting situations that test his faith. He assists on a couple of exorcisms that see people twist in strange ways, spout foreign dialects they couldn’t possibly know, and bleed from different orifices. This film is a clichéd and seen before concoction of the exorcism genre. You will hate the characters, hate the relationships, hate the story, and hate the ending. The thing that is the most puzzling about this movie is that it is based on a true story. Unfortunately for us the story is garbage and not remotely interesting.
Director Mikael Hafstrom has an average resume (1408, Derailed) but just didn’t bring his A game for this one. The script allowed for plenty opportunity for scares and horror but he never delivered even once in that department. This film had a modest budget (est. 37 million) so really there was no excuse for the poorly shot exorcism scenes. Hafstrom never gains the viewers attention and there is no excuse for that.
I cannot recommend this movie as it will leave you with the right to remain bored.
T Factor + If you like exorcism movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you like lots of blood and frights in your horror then this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Devil Inside, The Last Exorcism.