A non-believer seminary college student is turned into a believer when he is sent to Rome for a training course in exorcism in The Rite. Read the entire review:
Business rating: 1 star
Star cast: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O’Donoghue, Marta Gastini, Alice Braga.
Plot: A non-believer seminary college student is turned into a believer when he is sent to Rome for a training course in exorcism.
What’s Good: Anthony Hopkins’ performance; the exorcism scenes; the camerawork.
What’s Bad: The loopholes in the script; lead actor O’Donoghue’s average performance.
Verdict: The Rite is wasted potential; the average script does it in.
Loo break: Several in the first half.
Watch or Not? Watch The Rite only if you are ready for a realistic film about exorcism.
Contrafilm, Fletcher & Company and New Line Cinema’s The Rite is the story of a doubting trainee-priest, who is a non-believer, but changes his view after working with an exorcist in Rome.
Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) runs to seminary school to escape from his mundane life of working as an assistant to his father in the latter’s funeral home. Four years later, he completes his studies and is on the verge of becoming a priest, but being the atheist that he is, he resigns. Father Matthew (Toby Jones), his mentor, insists that Michael give God another chance and sends him off to do a course in exorcism in Rome.
In the exorcism class, Michael stands out as the skeptic, and thereby, is sent to meet Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins), who is a practising exorcist, living in a dilapidated house in Rome. Here, Michael meets Angeline (Alice Braga), a journalist who is writing a story on exorcism and wants an interview with Lucas for the same. Michael takes a liking to Father Lucas, who accepts Michael’s atheism and says that even he was a non-believer before. Both of them conduct several exorcism sessions on a young, pregnant girl, Rosaria (Marta Gastini). Father Lucas teaches Michael all the signs of exorcism, using Rosaria as an example. While nails come out of Rosaria’s mouth after one such session, Michael still finds it difficult to believe that the Evil exists. Soon, Michael gets a call that his father has passed away. In the hotel where he is staying, Michael sees a horse with red eyes, which is supposed to be the incarnation of the Evil. Also, Rosaria’s situation deteriorates and she and her unborn child die. Father Lucas looks like he has lost his mind. In fact, Michael and Angeline discover that Father Lucas is showing all the signs of being possessed. But to take him out of the agony, Michael must first believe in God. What happens next? The climax reveals the rest.
Story and Screenplay – The Rite Review
Michael Petroni’s story and screenplay, based on a book written by Matt Baglio, is different from the typical exorcism films that one has seen till now. The writer has tried to deal with exorcism in a realistic manner, and, as such, has stayed away from the typical horror elements of possession. However, this reduces the film’s appeal by a few notches. What also does not work in the script’s favour is the strange characterisation of Michael, who is shown to be a non-believer throughout the movie, even after he is presented with enough evidence that the Evil exists and that exorcism is real. Hence, the viewer does not relate to the protagonist at all. Father Lucas’ character is well-etched out, but in the absence of a good story, it, on its own, fails to hold the film. His performance and the seriousness of the subject as a whole illustrate that the germ of the story had a lot of potential, which the writer has failed to capitalise on.
Star Performances – The Rite Review
Anthony Hopkins is at his best, getting into the Hannibal Lecter mode. Colin O’Donoghue is unimpressive. Marta Gastini impresses as the possessed girl. Toby Jones, Ciarán Hinds (Father Xavier) and Rutger Hauer (as Michael’s father) provide able support. Alice Braga has little to do.
Direction and Music – The Rite Review
Mikael Håfström’s direction is good in parts. He manages to hold the film together in the exorcism sequences, which have been filmed very well by Ben Davis. However, Håfström fails to recreate the intrigue and horror one had witnessed in his previous film, 1408. Alex Heffes’ background score is okay. Editing, by David Rosenbloom, is patchy.
The Last Word
All in all, The Rite makes for interesting viewing, but falls short of one’s expectations. A better watch would be a DVD copy of The Exorcist or The Exorcism Of Emily Rose. The Rite will fail to create any wonder at the Indian box-office.