The Rite Directed by: Mikael Håfström Cast: Colin O'Donoghue, Anthony Hopkins, Ciarán Hinds, Rutger Hauer Running Time: 1 hr 52 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: January 28, 2011
PLOT: A man (O'Donoghue) who is about to become a priest doesn't believe. He's transferred and sent to Italy to study at an exorcism school, where he begins to be under the tutelage of an old priest (Hopkins).
WHO'S IT FOR? Those who already believe in exorcisms over science, or just want a glimpse of Hopkins having fun on the big screen.
EXPECTATIONS: Hopkins is great. We all agree, right? When's the last time we've seen the greatness? That's the issue going forward. Also, it would be ridiculous to expect something as good as The Exorcist. I know that every time I sit down to a film about being possessed.
ACTORS: Colin O'Donoghue as Michael Kovak: Hopkins might get top billing, but he's definitely not the lead in this film. In fact, Hopkins doesn't show up until about 30 minutes in, so before that, it's just us and Michael. It doesn't really seem Michael has any personal demons. After his mom died, maybe his dad (an underutilized role played by Rutger Hauer) was a little cold and creepy in the funeral home. That's about it. Michael can't just leave the family business without a good excuse so he becomes a priest (almost). Going through the motions of becoming a priest while not really believing is a good idea, but not much is done with it. I don't see how a viewer could test their faith or their believes with this film. Once things start getting all exorcist-y, Michael doesn't believe, and doesn't believe and doesn't believe, yet the movie world is clearly showing it's real. O'Donoghue seems bland in this role that requires a lot of spark. Score: 3
Anthony Hopkins as Father Lucas Trevant: He goes full Hopkins in this movie, and for a few minutes it seems like this could be delicious fun. Unfortunately, that doesn't last. Father Lucas doesn't really teach. He takes Michael around and shows him two people that he is currently "helping." So, it just feels like waiting. Waiting to get to the juicy stuff. Once we get to the end of the film, I just felt like it was too bad Hopkins was present. The delicious fun didn't last long. Score: 5
Alice Braga as Angeline: She's a journalist, but this character is terribly underwritten. Angeline at least has some past that matters, with a brother who went through some illnesses/issues/demonic plaques. But that's only talked about, never shown. What about her present? How was she allowed in the classes? Was she undercover? Would the church really allow her access? Who knows, the movie never bothers to explain. She's just in the right place. Or, if you don't like to witness exorcisms, then she's in the wrong place. Score: 3
TALKING: Fate. Possessed. Chosen. Demons. God. Jesus. It's your typical exorcist chatter. It seemed like we were going to get some rules that would later matter. But those rules consisted of "demons have knowledge of the unknowable," and also you've got to get the devil/demon's name. Devils HATE when you get their name. Lame. Score: 3
SIGHTS: At least we have Rome. That's what I thought when Michael heads there after what seemed like 20 minutes. Where else would exorcism school be? Really, we're mainly at Father Lucas' house once we get overseas, so we rarely get to see the beauty of the city. What about those who are possessed? It seems like people get bug-eyed and very veiny. So think of them as babies or really old. Take your pick. Score: 4
SOUNDS: Whispers, loud voices, shouting and groaning. Once again, it's basic exorcist stuff with none of it adding any pop. It definitely doesn't lead to any scares, which for some reason I thought was the point of this film. My bad. Oh wait, no it's not. This film is filed under "horror." Score: 3
BEST SCENE: Hopkins first scene is the best. It allows you to think for just a little while that this material doesn't matter. He's just fun to watch. Father Lucas doesn't care what Michael believes, he just wants him to follow a few simple rules and stay out of the way.
ENDING: Who shouts the loudest wins, right? It seems that things work out for some, and we're even given a little glimpse into the "true events."
QUESTIONS: First, let's talk about the little boy who Father Lucas is treating. He sees the boy has huge hoof bruises all over his body. Father Lucas first doubts and questions the mother. Then, he fakes healing with a frog. This makes NO sense for what Father Lucas believes and what the purpose of any of this is. Now, please allow me to rant about product placement (or you can skip the rest). Really McDonald's? Nostalgic for home, Michael stops in to McDonald's for a McCafe. In the very next scene, Angeline tells him she'll take him to get a real cup of coffee. So, hasn't this product placement failed on two levels? You've now dissed the coffee and you've associated yourself with an exorcist movie. Well done.
REWATCHABILITY: No. If I need another exorcism movie, I'd consider rewatching The Last Exorcism.
I don't believe in ghosts, but I love a good creepy ghost story. I don't believe in demonic possessions. But I ... wait, hold that though. The main problem with The Rite is that I must believe to get any spine-tingling joy or power out of this film. The first scare doesn't come until 30 minutes into the film. There is a tremendous amount of talk about belief, yet the film talks in absolutes. In this movie world, there is really no room to question that demonic possession doesn't actually happen. Plus, it's talked about a little bit, but I found all conversation discussing mental health vs. demonic possession to be insulting. This movie exists in theaters because Hopkins signed on. He does have The Rite, but that doesn't mean we have to watch.
FINAL SCORE: 3/10