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The Rite(2011)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Mikael Håfström

Starring:
Anthony Hopkins/Father Lucas Trevant
Colin O'Donoghue/Michael
Alice Braga/Angeline
Rutger Hauer/Istvan Kovak
6 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
A young “almost priest” (Colin O'Donoghue) is sent by the Vatican to hang with eccentric demon-buster Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins) in the name of solidifying his belief in God and the Devil. What he witnesses sells him.
THE LOWDOWN

“Woe to You Oh Earth and Sea for the Devil sends the beast with wrath
because he knows the time is short.”

THE RITE. The trailers didn’t do Jack or Jill for me. We’re still in January aka dumping month is still in effect. And for every quality inclined movie Anthony Hopkins put outs; he often pulls “solely for the paycheck” gigs too; which this came across as to me. So apart from the talented Mikael Håfström (who directed the fun horror ride that was 1408) at the helm peeking my interest I can’t say my hopes were up for this one being any damn good. So yup; I was staggered when it wound up keeping me glued to my seat for 2 hours, without me looking at my watch, navel or crotch once. Who knew?!

Suggested by (as the opening credits stated) Matt Baglio's (who also co wrote the screenplay) 2009 book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist ; THE RITE started off with oomph. It put out an enticing initial premise, bleak and unsettling visuals, an atmosphere that reeked of death and creepy ass flashbacks that wowed me style wise while giving me the willies. Its stellar cast was also quite the asset. When the script (or was it the edit of what was shot) failed; the actors would prevail and keep me in the loop none the less. Colin O'Donoghue was affable and convincing as the young buck with a lot to learn about old scratch. Alice Braga and Rutger Hauer impressed with their supporting roles while Anthony Hopkins ruled all with an iron fist and steel toed boots. This was his show through and through. Wow, what an entertaining performance that was! Hopkins possessed the screen every time he was on it via his peculiar, charismatic and commanding display. I couldn’t get enough of him! He made it all worthwhile and then some!

“Let him who have understanding reckon the number of the beast.”

Horror wise; the flick put out a handful of spooky moments that hit where it counted; the gut. Håfström knows how to frame for maximum eeriness and is also an ace at generating tension, so I was all good in that department. The grounded manner in which the possession angle was tackled appealed to me as well (dug that reference to The Exorcist via a line of dialogue); it gave the happenings more credibility, hence making them scarier. I’m personally fascinated by theology; God, The Devil, Demons, Burt Reynolds, Angels…and this puppy hit the spot in that respect. God and Belzebub were bubbling in my noggin as I walked home while playing “duck the bums, begging for change” that's for sure.  Add to all that loving a morose score by Alex Heffes that served the picture wonderfully, a bang on use of the distinctive Rome locations (made me miss the city; it has such an endearing aura) and some moments of organic humor that worked in this one’s favor and you get a piece of horror celluloid that is worth at least a watch So what was the hitch then?

“For it is a human number.

Well, the middle section of the film was all kinds of wrong and didn’t live to the potential the first act promised. It truly felt like a bunch of Apes in suits jumped in there and snipped away at the fat and the possibilities the narrative could’ve had. In my Bible, to tell this tale right, it should’ve been a two hour and a half movie since 112 minutes were not enough to give the characters and the story justice. And man the chain of events suffered. The evolution of the storyline felt patchy, scenes would end abruptly and the passing of time was conveyed clumsily. Same went for the actual “exorcism cases” that went down; some started off good; but would then kind of go nowhere which left me a tad underwhelmed. And was I alone in thinking that the flick dropped the ball in terms of the more cerebral seeds it had planted? The religious point of view on possession versus the scientific one for example made for a mucho compelling theme; I wish the movie had run with it further, instead of just scratching the surface. Lastly; some unintentional laughs went down during the cap-off; but now that I think of it; it was part of the fun; hence all good.

“Its number is six hundred and sixty six.”

On the whole; I had a groovy time with THE RITE. Do I think there was a better movie in there? F*ck yeah. But the slick premise; spine-chilling imagery, thought provoking subject matter and Anthony Hopkins blowing everyone and everything off the screen via his grandiose showcase made it time well spent. I say wait for DVD; it’s an ideal, rainy Sunday afternoon rental. NOTE: In case you haven’t noticed, I was listening to Iron Maiden’s NUMBER OF THE BEAST as I wrote this garbage; felt like an appropriate track. So I will end with:

  “I'm coming back, I will return. And I'll possess your body and I'll make you burn. I'll have the fire. I'll have the force. I'll have the power to make my evil take its course. YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”

GORE
Not much of that stuff. We get blood, some nifty possession makeup and that was pretty much it.
T & A
Nothing to see here; move on!
BOTTOM LINE
There was once a better movie here in my opinion. I could smell meddling Studio paws from a mile away. With that; I still managed to have a swell ride with THE RITE. Its storyline was gripping, I got enough chilling stuff tossed my way, the mood was deliciously grim and Anthony Hopkins shined like he hadn’t in a while. When this dude is “on”; nobody could touch him. Bummer that the middle section of the flick took the awkward, underdeveloped and choppy highway. There was so much potential here and it was hardly tapped. I still say check it… in the comfort of your own home that is… it’s that kind of movie.
BULL'S EYE
The flick was written by Matt Baglio and Michael Petroni.

Matt Baglio took part in a Vatican seminar on exorcism; which inspired his book and in turn the movie.

The flick was shot in Budapest, Hungary and Rome, Lazio, Italy.
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