MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Anthony Hopkins stars as Father Lucas, a Roman priest who is an expert on exorcisms. When Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue), a young seminary student who is encountering a crisis of faith, travels to Rome to study the modern approach to exorcisms, they enter into a tenuous mentoring relationship. However, soon Kovak begins to doubt Father Lucas’ practices, until evidence of real demons present themselves.
WHAT I LIKED
There were a lot of things going against “The Rite” as a film to enjoy. First, it was a horror movie released early in the year. In my experience, if a horror movie isn’t given a solid October release, it’s not strong enough to go up against all the other thrillers of Halloween. Second, “The Rite” was not screened widely, which is another sign that the movie might not be good.
However, when I finally got a chance to watch it, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Sure, it rehashes a lot of the exorcism movie cliches we’ve seen over the years. But really, how much more can you do since “The Exorcist” broke the mold in 1973?
The focus isn’t on the exorcisms, per se, but more on Kovak’s crisis of faith. Again, this is a bit of a cliche, having been done in “The Exorcist” as well. However, I thought it was presented in a new context. It helps that the movie is based on a real-life book by a priest who sought to study the work of the modern exorcism.
Though thoroughly predictable, this film is not to be taken too seriously. In the end, as a late-night weekend rental for some thrills and cool imagery, “The Rite” works for me.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Aside from the slew of exorcist film cliches that are pretty much unavoidable at this point in film history, “The Rite” struggles with its more intense scenes. It’s at its best in the ambiguous moments where you wonder if something is real or not. When the movie finally goes balls-to-the-wall and presents the money shots, it gets a little goofy. Anthony Hopkins plays a mean Hannibal Lecter. Not so much when it comes to a demon-possessed priest.
The disc comes with an alternate ending, which is labeled as “chilling” on the box but is really just mildly interesting. More intriguing, however, is the featurette “The Rite: Soldier of God,” which tells the story of Father Gary Thomas, who is the inspiration of the film. This featurette covers his word as a modern-day exorcist and shares some interesting accounts of the practice. There are also some deleted scenes and a digital copy disc.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of exorcist movies and Anthony Hopkins.