At The Movies: The Rite Review
Okay, I just had to say it. I'm sure at least a dozen or so other film critics have made the same awful joke when reviewing this movie, but based on the off-chance they didn't, I did. Also, its 1:30 in the morning, I'm totally shot, and that's the best I can come up with. It's sad, I know, but that's life.
Anyway (here's a fun assignment for my readers: go back through all my reviews and count the number of times I say "anyway"), The Rite is a horror movie of sorts based on a book written by some guy who apparently has attended a few "actual" exorcisms. One could say this qualifies this movie for the "Based On A True Story" moniker (the film DOES start with the ol' "Inspired By True Events" text), if one were inclined to believe in such events. Regardless if you do or don't, Hollywood got their grubby little mitts on the book and, of course, churned out a movie version which I'm sure took all sorts of "artistic" licenses with the subject matter.
Well, here goes: Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue) hates his daddy, an oppressive funeral parlor owner (Rutger Hauer!) and decides to scam a free college education by entering seminary school and renouncing his vows afterwards. Pretty slick idea, actually. So Kovak gives this a shot, but when he lays his letter of resignation upon the Father Superior, he ain't hearing it. He threatens Kovak with a hefty bill for his schooling unless he attends a class on exorcism in Rome. Why? Who knows.
While in the class, Father Xavier (Ciaran Hinds) can clearly see that Kovak still ain't buying it, so he offers to introduce him to a pal of his: Hannibal Lec...um, I mean, Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), a real pro in the field of exorcism. His current client happens to be a teenage girl and while Kovak still has his doubts, even after seeing this supposedly possessed girl do all manner of wacky, otherworldly stuff, but after she passes away while in Father Xavier's care, some really not-so-nice things start happening, and Kovak starts to change his tune.
Overall, The Rite was just kind of flat. It's billed as a horror movie, but it's not really; it's more of a drama. Sure, it's got some of the trappings, especially in terms of atmosphere and it's more realistic take on the whole demonic possession thing...well, as realistic as such a thing can be, anyway. It's actually pretty creepy how, according to Father Lucas, in order to expunge the demon you have to hack away at it for months and years until the poor devil finally offers up its "real name" (Bert? Rupert? Elmo?) thus robbing it of all its power and allowing the priest to give it the boot.
But eventually, it kind of just lost me. The last act actually got fairly lame, some bad special effects started popping up, and things went all Hollywood, for lack of a better term. I don't want to give away anything, so I won't, but suffice it to say that this movie was quite promising when playing its subject matter straight and realistically; when it departed from that, it just got pretty stupid, clichéd, and cheap.
Still, much like bad pizza, even when he's in a sucky movie Anthony Hopkins is still pretty good. He belongs to a rare group of actors, such as Sean Connery, or Wesley Snipes, that can raise even a mediocre effort to a watchable level just by being in it based on charisma alone.
Colin O'Donoghue as Kovak was solid, he's a newcomer, and while he didn't display anything that assured me that talent scouts will be beating down his door for roles anytime soon, he was good enough to ensure he at least gets a few Old Navy commercials under his belt if this whole movie thing doesn't work out for him. Seriously, though, he did shine in several scenes. The kid might have "it." Or maybe not.
Gee, can you tell I'm tired?
Oh, and Alice Braga plays some journalist named Angeline who's taking the exorcism class along with Kovak as research for some story she's writing. She's filler, that's all.
So, The Rite starts out decently enough, but eventually goes south and doesn't come back. Still, it's not a total waste, and might be worth checking out if you're painfully, painfully bored one afternoon. Myself, I didn't walk out outright hating it...I just had a profound sense of disappointment.
Hmm...maybe that's worse. After all, hating a movie usually just means that it sucked, but disappointment means it had potential and screwed it up. Pity.
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