I’m not one for scary movies, but anything starring Anthony Hopkins gets my attention. I even broke down and watched ‘Silence of the Lambs’ back in the 1990s, and that’s one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. Again, though, I don’t see a lot, so not much to compare with. I’ve never even seen ‘The Exorcist.’
So I decided to see ‘[amazon_link id=”B004EPYZOE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Rite[/amazon_link]’ at the theater in January, because Anthony Hopkins can be so darn creepy and sinister. Yet he still manages to be a lonely butler in ‘The Remains of the Day,’ an eccentric motorcycle guy in ‘The World’s Fastest Indian,’ and a mythical king in ‘Thor.’ He’s surely one of the most accomplished and diverse actors working today, but I’ll save that for another post.
In ‘The Rite,’ he plays an exorcist living in Italy whose unorthodox methods draw scathing reviews from Catholics. Nonetheless, his methods prove quite effective in ridding the human body of pesky demons. Here’s where Michael Kovac (Colin O’Donoghue) comes in. He’s the son of a funeral director who joins the seminary to get away from the family business. I guess he never thought about being an accountant or a doctor.
But Michael is lacking in the faith department, so his mentor sends him to Italy to study exorcism, where he attends a session with Father Xavier (Ciaran Hinds), who sends him to Father Lucas (Hopkins). Even after witnessing Father Lucas perform some intense exorcisms, Michael is still skeptical, but that’s the least of his worries. It soon becomes clear there’s more to Father Lucas than meets the eye.
There are definitely a few jump-out-of-your-seat moments in ‘The Rite,’ but overall, it’s really not that scary. It’s one of those movies where you feel like if they’d just taken things a few steps further, gone a little more into the story, and given us some backstory on Father Lucas, it could have been a great movie rather than a mediocre one.
But I’m still glad I saw it, if only to see Hopkins work his particular brand of movie magic on us.
‘The Rite’ was released on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download on May 17, 2011. Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material, violence, frightening images, and language including sexual references; 114 minutes.
Bonus Features: Both the DVD and the Combo Pack feature a selection of deleted scenes, including some nice flashbacks featuring Rutger Hauer as Michael’s mortician dad. Another features a conversation between Father Lucas and Michael. On the blu-ray only, you’ll find a mildly-scary alternate ending and a featurette called ‘The Rite: Soldier of God,’ which looks at the real-life story on which the movie is based. The distributors missed a great opportunity to give us an in-depth look at the history of exorcism, which could have been fascinating.
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Also check out these reviews of ‘The Rite’:
Jason Bailey, DVD Talk: “Yet another warmed-over rehash of ‘The Exorcist,’ ‘The Rite’ has the thrills and intelligence of a third-string direct-to-video thriller; it is distinguished only by the presence of Anthony Hopkins, in the kind of role Rutger Hauer would usually play.”
Michael Gingold, Fangoria: “It was probably too much to hope that a mainstream film about exorcism instruction could avoid veering away from personal drama to become one more trip down possession street, and that it could find an entirely fresh way to deliver those goods.”
Keith Phipps, AV Club: “Kudos to ‘The Rite’ for thinking outside the usual goat/pentagram/black-candles box for its satanic imagery, but is a mule really the best it could manage?”