2011’s “The Rite” is built around the Hollywood doctrine that any movie, big or small, can be made automatically horrifying if including Anthony Hopkins as one of its stars. Unfortunately that’s not the case for “The Rite” a truly terrible exorcism film that dabbles in the religious hysteria of losing faith and includes about as much exorcist crapola to keep audiences watching with baited breath unsure if they’ll get anything even remotely shocking as what was seen in the William Friedkin classic film from the seventies.
What “The Rite” feels like is a con. And that’s because most of the film works on the premise that every exorcism, and every case involving satanic rituals and possession is leading up to something big and powerful, a punch–if you will–that will ultimately leave us breath taken. Sadly no such punch is amidst, and “The Rite” feels like a hodgepodge cliches and contrivances that feels like it’s going somewhere and never does. Michael is a young priest who has lost his faith. Even after blessing a young girl involved in a car accident, his faith has all but dwindled.
In order to restore his faith and belief in the higher power, he’s sent to see Father Lucas Trevant, a special agent of the church who scouts out potential cases for the church and performs rituals on victims of possessions. The rest of “The Rite” is basically a battle of good and evil versus the battle of faith and logic as Michael attempts to unveil every mysterious possession they confront while Trevant chalks every exorcism up to loss of faith and the devil’s trickery. What “The Rite” ultimately is, is just a movie about faith versus logic with horror occasionally rearing its head to trick us in to believing we’re viewing a genre film.
Anthony Hopkins basically sleep walks through this role and does a bang up job of looking interested in what’s happening around him most of the time, while Colin O’Donoghue is sharp as the young priest on a mission to disprove everything before his eyes, no matter how spectacular. Ultimately though, “The Rite” is a lousy genre picture, and one that should fill up the shelves of films that almost come close to the greatness of “The Exorcist” but never quite reach that crescendo in innovation and originality.
Exclusively on Blu-Ray we’re given the chilling alternate ending as well as a small featurette about the making of “The Rite.’ For DVD we’re given a look in to the additional scenes and what was left on the cutting room floor.