The Rite (Blu-ray)
Horror films are always a tricky business. If done right they can inflict fear that will stick with you long after your viewing. But if done poorly they can induce a snore fest that will leave you frustrated and annoyed. THE RITE falls somewhere in the middle having some quality elements but failing when it comes to any lasting scares. Based on true events (like nearly all horror movies recently claim), THE RITE is about possessions, exorcisms and the importance of faith to truly overcome.
After Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) writes his letter of resignation from seminary school because of his lack of faith, an unfortunate occurrence happens where he finds himself as the last spiritual comfort to a dying young woman. Another Father sees his potential and asks him to spend a few months in beautiful Italy attending a special state of the art exorcism class then choose to quit if he still has doubts about his calling. Due to Kovak’s lack of faith the Catholic Church sends him to work with an unorthodox legendary priest Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins). Here he is immediately thrown into an apprentice role witnessing first hand demonic possessions and exorcisms. Still believing in rational psychological explanations, Michael challenges everything he is exposed to. Until finally his involvement becomes much too personal after the demon possessed come after him directly through unlikely means.
So what is the difference between scary and not scary? This is another tricky area because people tend to have a different idea what scary actually is. For me there are two key elements that go hand in hand: Believability and less is more factor. Believability goes a long way when using religion as a background. But it’s important to be biblically accurate embracing the faith from which the story is built around and for the most part this is where the film succeeds. However, where it begins to falter is the simple Alfred Hitchcock trick of not showing the scary but rather letting our minds create the fear. THE RITE exposes the scary virtually creating no more unknown fear as it sits before our eyes for the final act. Thus eliminating the entire intention.
But the film does hold up with an intriguing story and believable characters. I was interested in the growth of the young doubting priest. With his caring eyes that give a genuine soulful concern, Colin O’Donoghue gives a natural performance that helps the audience become invested. Anthony Hopkins also gives a terrific performance, however I can’t help thinking the effectiveness of the film would have benefited to a lesser-known actor. More successful films such as THE EXORCIST, THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE and more recently the terrifying PARANORMAL ACTIVITY deal with the possession subject better because the actors are less known at the time. The audience is able to believe this is happening to this stranger rather than an actor. For example, unknown actress Marta Gastini gives a riveting performance as a young pregnant girl believed to be possessed that works better because she seems like a real person.
I didn’t hate THE RITE. In fact, it did some nice things with the story and was very well shot. But at the end of the day the scares and impact were minimal creating a forgettable movie about possession falling far short from similar predecessors.
Video: (1080p High Definition 2.4:1) A nice clean picture.
Audio: (5.1 DTS-HD MA) The sound is exceptional catching every little fly buzzing through each speaker.
The Rite: Soldier of God (6:40): FR Gary Thomas and reporter Matt Baglio who wrote the book The Making of an Modern Exorcist talk about the real experiences in which the film is based and the actual exorcism school. This is pretty fascinating. I only wish it was longer and more detailed.
Alternate Ending (1:41): A darker final ending that I’m guessing was taken out because of the lack of credibility it may have being based on a true story.
Deleted Scenes (12:39): Four scenes that add nothing to the rest of the picture. In fact they actually would have hurt the story and were wisely cut.