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The Rite movie poster

The Rite: Movie Review

Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Mikael Håfström
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O’Donoghue, Alice Braga, Rutger Hauer, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones
Released by: Warner Bros. Pictures

In Short: While giving Sir Anthony Hopkins a chance to do his creepy Hannibal Lecter thing, “The Rite” takes all the wrong turns, plodding along painfully with nary a scare.

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An Exorcism with No Bite

Despite the presence of a group of very talented actors, “The Rite” has no bite. This plodding drama is being sold as a horror flick akin to the 1973 classic “The Exorcist,” but there’s one glaring difference between the two. The Oscar-winning classic (it won two, was nominated for ten) is a truly scary movie, whether or not the viewer is a fervent Catholic believer in God or a dedicated atheist. “The Rite,” on the other hand, despite the presence of Oscar-winning actor Anthony Hopkins as Father Lucas Trevant, a priest who specializes in exorcisms, will only satisfy those true believers. Skeptics will still be skeptical, and this film certainly will not scare anybody from either camp (or those in between), and isn’t being frightened the whole point of movies like this?

The actual star of the film is newcomer Colin O’Donoghue, a darkly handsome Irish actor who plays an American seminary student who graduates into the priesthood, yet still has doubts about his faith. He is sent to Rome to study to become an exorcist, as this film ostensibly “inspired by true events” plays out. There he meets a beautiful young journalist (Alice Braga) and together they begin to explore the exorcisms that Father Lucas performs.

Anthony Hopkins in The Rite Marta Gastini in The Rite

Frogs mysteriously appear, a pregnant teenager is seemingly possessed by the devil and, ultimately, the evil invades Father Lucas, which makes no sense at all, as he’s the one who is supposed to have the strongest faith. But it gives Sir Tony a chance to do his Hannibal Lecter thing, getting all creepy and evil on us.

But even that possession doesn’t really inspire terror, and by the time it finally arrives, after hours of slow action featuring long debates about the nature of God, the devil and good versus evil, we’re too filled with ennui to care. If it weren’t for the adept soundtrack by Alex Heffes, there honestly would be nothing to be afraid of here at all.

Frankly, the only truly redeeming thing about “The Rite” is that it takes place in Rome and that vibrant city is, as always, a wonderful character to experience.

By Jenny Peters


(Updated: 01/28/11 CT)

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