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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘The Rite’ is just so wrong

    Anthony Hopkins is pretty much the definition of terrifying. Period. His appearance isn’t frightening. In fact, he sometimes looks like a kindly grandfather. But on the silver screen, the wrinkled bags under his bloodhound eyes combined with a knife-like smile make it almost impossible to not imagine him hissing, “”Hello, Clarice.”” As if Anthony Hopkins as a serial killer wasn’t bad enough, he can also deliver a fairly scary performance as a possessed priest.

    Spinning heads? Yup. Violent body contortions? You betcha. Vomiting up nails? Yes, “”The Rite”” has you covered when considering the staples of an exorcism movie. But it’s nothing remarkable.

    Handsome young priest Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) journeys to Rome to participate in an exorcism seminar hosted by Vatican priests. Questioning the practice (let alone his belief in God), Michael is sent to an experienced exorcist, Father Lucas (Hopkins). Despite witnessing a plethora of creepy preternatural events, Kovak still clings to his doubts. That is, until Father Lucas finds himself deep within the devil’s clutches.

    Sure, it’s a passable plot, but the acting does nothing to up the scare factor. O’Donoghue, a more or less unknown actor, does nothing more than look around confused and make skeptical/scared glances when the demons are out to play. There’s also a quasi-romantic interest in the form of a reporter investigating exorcisms (Alice Braga) that’s completely unnecessary and distracting.

    You can essentially snooze until the ending, where Hopkins’ performance becomes something worth watching between slightly separated fingers. Besides the somewhat disgusting makeup and the unnatural limb movement, it’s his delivery that compels audiences to sit up and listen. The actual words that he spits at Michael’s attempts are no different than any other exorcist movie. Yet as a naturally gifted mimic, Hopkins commands a variety of voices and tones that both mock and horrify.

    Though scary at times, “”The Rite”” relies heavily on genre clichés — think crows cawing and echoing laughter in empty hotels. The soundtrack and sound design are also nothing new. Sudden eye openings are accompanied by loud crescendos, while heavy violins often overlay the dialogue. To give it credit, based on the assumption that the devil is still at work in the world, “”The Rite”” treats exorcisms seriously and does attempt to make the film as realistic as possible.

    Despite a solid performance from Hopkins, “”The Rite”” falls into the chasm of “”The Exorcist”” imitators. So if you like exorcism movies, this one may be worth a watch on a boring night. But at the end of the day, you’ll most likely be able to go home, turn off the lights and sleep soundly.

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