Movie Review: ‘The Rite’

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, January 28, 2011 at 12:00 am.

Summary: Loosely based on a true story, The Rite tells the tale of Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue). Raised in a funeral home with a religious father, Kovak has two choices: to be a priest or a mortician. He goes with the priesthood, but doubts his faith. Kovak is forced to live in Italy, where he witnesses an exorcism by an older priest (Anthony Hopkins). Will it make him believe?

Review: Anthony Hopkins is one of the greatest actors to have ever lived. But none of the greats could’ve made this poorly crafted, lethargic, unoriginal gush of foolishness work onscreen. The Rite struggles on every level, and, with the exception of a few good one-liners from Hopkins, the film evokes no emotion—neither suspense nor laughter, as horror films sometimes do.

Ever since 1973’s The Exorcist, Hollywood has been obsessed with reinventing the exorcism storyline. It’s always a brunette girl contorting and cursing with holy water splashed on her face. This premise was a one-hit wonder and Oscar gold in the ’70s, but has rarely resonated well with audiences since then.

Directed by Mikael Håfström, The Rite stumbles along with a monotone Colin O’Donoghue as a skeptical soon-to-be priest. Within the first 20 minutes, you can predict the ending. By the end of the nearly two hours, will the priest find Christ or become an atheist?  Take a wild Hollywood guess.

Everything else in between is schlock dressed as “horror.” The cheap scares consist of mules with red eyes, colorful frogs as demons and religious imagery tainted by the “devil.”

Moreover, there is an uncomfortable agenda-driven religious message enforced in The Rite that I am sure the likes of Fox News will appreciate it. Agendas in film work for well-done movies; this film is the opposite.

The Rite is all wrong. I have faith this flick will be plagued with bad reviews and a strong opening weekend but vanish in the following weeks.

The Rite is in theaters today.

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