Films | Movie Reviews | The Rite – Movie Review

The Rite – Movie Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on February 12, 2011 | No Comments

FILM – The Rite
PRODUCER – Beau Flynn, Tripp Vinson, Mark Tuohy, Christy Fletcher
DIRECTOR – Mikael Håfström
WRITER – Michael Petroni, Matt Baglio (Book)
CAST – Colin O’Donoghue, Anthony Hopkins, Alice Braga
MUSIC – Alex Heffes

Hollywood’s tryst with faith and atheism is never-ending. In a yet another delineation of God vs Devil comes, ‘The Rite’, Mikael Håfström’s supernatural thriller.

‘The Rite’ is based on a book ‘The Making of a Modern Exorcist’ by Matt Baglio, which is inspired by real-life events. It is the story of a young priest Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue), who enrols in a seminary in Rome in a bid to escape his father’s mortuary business. There he meets Father Lucas Trevant (Anthonny Hopkins) who takes him on a journey of exorcism to unveil the true nature of the God and the Devil. What follows is a supernatural drama that is a cross between being cerebral and visceral story-telling.

Set in Europe, the film brings an earthy and historic charm with its setting. The backdrops of Roman villas and interiors of Hungarian houses provide a sense of the primeval in the mood. The aura and the ambience however end there.

Evoking age-old fundamental questions of the dichotomy of faith and non-belief, the film takes an ambiguous and unambitious route. It engages with the ultimate antagonist of the Devil in a cerebral fashion, for once keeping him away from dread and gore. By doing so it throws up regular definitions and perspectives to question. However and very surprisingly, it refuses to provide answers or fresher perspectives of these very definitions it has put in a spin. As it goes on, it undoes its own good intentions by falling prey to generic horror formulae to scare, leaving the questions to resolve by the force of drama. Gore and visceral the regular horror-flick kicks find their way in and the film becomes a yet-another, just-another attempt to scare.

Anthony Hopkins and Colin Donahue deliver suitably convincing performances even though the latter may be little less intense and too serious. Anthony Hopkins macabre and mysterious priest hits the right note with his sharply intelligent eyes and piercing screen presence doing most of the talking. Alice Braga, as the journalist who shadows Kovak to follow his exorcism discoveries has little to do.

Neither high drama nor stunningly intellectual, ‘The Rite’ is an ambivalent film even if it just falls short of being yet another me-too horror movie. It isn’t stunningly boring either but then supernatural thrillers are no thrillers if they remain middle-of-the-road. Either give us spectacular gut-wrenchers or mind-distorting brain-fests. What is the use of a horror film that doesn’t scare?

FATEMA KAGALWALA

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