Best Movies of All Time + [Toby Jones]

THE RITE

THE RITE-13

The Rite is a 2011 horror film directed by Mikael Håfström that centers around a young man who is sent to the Vatican in order to learn the ways of exorcism. Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue) leaves seminary school with a lot of doubt in his faith and makes his way to Rome on the suggestion of his Father Superior (Toby Jones). Once there, he begins taking a course on exorcism, but when he expresses his disbelief to class professor Father Xavier (Ciarán Hinds), he is sent to meet an old, unorthodox exorcist named Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins). Immediately upon their meeting, Lucas invites Michael to watch him perform an exorcism on a supposedly possessed girl named Rosaria (Marta Gastini), but after witnessing the event, Michael is still more filled with questions than answers. He keeps a close watch on the relationship between Rosaria and Father Lucas and soon begins to notice certain happenings and events that cause him to question his own set of beliefs.

Well, you can chalk this one up as a case of the "Januarys." January is perennially the movie discard month, receiving a lot of the films that, on their origin, were thought to be awards season contenders but proved to screen poorly with test audiences. If you've noticed the other reviews I've posted for 2011 films, you'll notice that the highest grade I've given is a B- (for The Mechanic). Both The Green Hornet and The Dilemma, on the other hand, are mired in mediocrity, and sadly, the same can be said for The Rite.

Our screenplay is fair at best, giving few scares and no real sense of impending doom, as is the case with good horror films. Personally, I think the whole exorcist idea has been a bit worn out, but this is coming from a guy who has yet to see the original The Exorcist from 1973 (I'll get around to it, so get off me). However, in recent years, I feel as though I've seen a slew of exorcism-related flicks released, and I'm trying to figure out how they could possibly make any of them original any more. The Rite was so rote and predictable that I nodded off a few times and immediately picked up the story upon awakening. It does, however, throw a couple of nods towards that oh-so-famous 1973 film, with Hopkins delivering a line about "spinning heads" and "pea soup." I laughed out loud for that one.

What's really sad is that we actually get some good performances from the ensemble. I mean, they're not amazing or anything, but they're definitely better than the trailer makes them seem (the trailer is gawdawful, in my opinion). Hopkins is decent and has his moments of "goodness," but he's definitely not the force he once was. O'Donoghue is convincing as our lead, taking us into the depths of his moral questioning of the events taking place around him. I think a lot has to be said for the fantastic, if short-lived, performance given by Miss Gastini as a possessed young woman. I think the possessed individuals in any of the exorcism movies always have the ability to steal a scene, and Gastini does not disappoint. Alice Braga, who plays a reporter trying to get the inside scoop on the exorcism course being offered by the Vatican, is also very good in her supporting role.

Ultimately, The Rite's effectiveness - or lack thereof - comes down to the fact that it does not prove to be scary in the slightest. There's not even much in terms of suspense. When I start dozing off in a movie (which rarely happens, mind you), you know there's something absolutely wrong. The Rite isn't the worst movie I've ever seen, but I definitely wouldn't recommend you spend your money to watch it in theaters.

Movie Review Summary:Grade: C-
1.5 Thumbs Down