The Rite (15)

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Review byMatthew Turner24/02/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 114 mins

The Rite is a decently made exorcism thriller with an entertainingly hammy performance from Hopkins, but there are several unintentionally laughable moments and it's ultimately not that different from every other exorcism thriller you've ever seen.

What's it all about?
Directed by Mikael Hafstrom, The Rite is inspired by true events (it says here) and stars Colin O'Donoghue as Michael Kovak, a young priest who's undergoing a crisis of faith. When he's sent to Rome for extra tuition, his creepy-looking professor (Ciaran Hinds) suggests that he spends some time hanging out with unorthodox Welsh exorcist Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), who lives in a house full of cats.

As luck would have it, Father Lucas is in the middle of treating a 16-year-old girl (Marta Gastini) who believes she's carrying Satan's child. Sure enough, Michael soon finds himself witnessing things that mere psychology can't explain, even though he's convinced her delusions are a result of having been raped by her father. And then Father Lucas himself starts behaving strangely ...

The Good
O'Donoghue makes a solid if inexpressive lead - he never seems all that flustered, for example, even when things get properly weird. There's also strong support from Alice Braga (as a sexy journalist who doesn't do Michael's crisis of faith any favours) but the film completely wastes the likes of Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones and Rutger Hauer by casting them in seemingly pivotal roles but giving them nothing interesting to do.

Unsurprisingly, the film really belongs to Hopkins (the 'Hannibal Rector' jokes are already out there), who's clearly having a wonderful time, even if his Devil-channelling moments do sound like an embarrassingly awful Jack Nicholson impression (“Have you FUCKED HER YET, Michael?”).

The Bad
The problem with exorcism movies is that they're inescapably derivative (though The Last Exorcism offered a clever twist on the genre) and it's fair to say that there isn't much here you won't have seen before, unless you count the moment with the unintentionally hilarious and not at all scary red-eyed horse.

Similarly, Hafstrom rather overdoes the cheap shocks (although, considering the sheer number of felines on screen it's a miracle he only does the jumping-out-cat trick once) and the film also chickens out of going gloriously over the top (it flirts with the idea in the film's best scene, then bottles it), which is a shame.

Worth seeing?
Hopkins' performance ensures that The Rite is ultimately worth seeing but it's nowhere near as scary as it thinks it is and you may feel like you've seen it all before.

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Content updated: 03/03/2011 04:52

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