Monday, October 21, 2013

Film Review: The Rite (2011)

The Rite (Review)
United States/2011
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...makes two hours feel like three due to the uneventful story and dreadfully slow pace."

Dissatisfied with his job as a mortician, Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue) enters a seminary school to possibly become a priest. However, Michael is at a point of disbelief and confusion, and at the brink of resignation, so he is sent to Rome to study exorcisms. In Rome, Michael meets Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), an exorcist with unorthodox methods...

The Rite continues as Michael searches for proof of the Devil's existence -- he is a doubter searching for absolute certainty. Along the way, he'll work with Father Lucas on an exorcism, which should convince him otherwise, but does not; Michael continues to question his beliefs, even after witnessing the unexplainable. After a devastating failure, Father Lucas, an occasional doubter, is possessed by the demon trying to contact Michael. And, in order to save Father Lucas, Michael must achieve absolute certainty. For an almost two hour film, there isn't much going on as the film feels hollow and very bloated until it reaches its predictable, unsatisfying ending.

The Rite is a very bland and boring possession film. It's not exactly a horror film because it's not scary; it's not a thriller because it lacks thrills; and, it's not a drama because, well, it's not very dramatic. This bland picture suffers from it's attempts at differentiating itself; it takes jabs at The Exorcist, but has you wishing it would be more of the same. On top of an uneventful and ineffective story, The Rite is filled with done-to-death clichés and laughable dialogue; the smart-ass protagonist trying to outsmart his professor to impress a girl, the sudden change of beliefs, etc.; dialogue like "She wants me to say hello. HELL-O!" I mean, really, most of the presentation is laughable. And, I understand fate is a theme of the film, but some of these plot contrivances are downright silly. The Rite makes two hours feel like three due to the uneventful story and dreadfully slow pace, and an easily forgettable three hours at that.

Colin O'Donoghue is a cardboard lead with little emotion and no charisma; he's as bland as the story, and that doesn't help at all. Anthony Hopkins is great for the bulk of his screen time; unfortunately, his performance takes a turn for the during the finale, but the writing shares more of the blame. Technically speaking, this film doesn't excel in any way and doesn't differentiate itself. The cinematography is often too dark, and the music is forgettable, and there seems to be a lack of direction from Mikael Håfström.

Overall, The Rite is a bore, a film that lacks identity despite trying to differentiate itself. It's uneventful, cliché, bloated, and, did I mention, boring. Anthony Hopkins offers some redeeming qualities to the film, but the lead overshadows him with his bland performance, anyway. I don't recommend The Rite, watch The Exorcist or The Exorcism of Emily Rose -- hell, watch The Possession in Japan, instead.

Score: 2/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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