The Rite16 August, 2011
Despite the negative reviews I heard about The Rite, I rented it this past weekend. The film was decent, but the story was lop-sided. The start of the film was a bit slow and drug its feet getting started. The background info the opening gave was necessary, but fails to compel the audience to connect with the protagonist. His goal is go through college in preparation for the priesthood on the church’s dime to get away from his home life and father—about whom we learn almost nothing. Once his education is complete his plan is to leave before taking his vows. A plan that usurped by his advisor, who enrolls the young priest in exorcism school at the Vatican.
There he is a slight nuisance to the professor. The prof sees him as a young American who lacks faith but has potential, therefore he must learn first hand from resident Welshman Anthony Hopkins. Who introduces him to the basics of exorcism and to a few possessed souls. All this takes a bit over an hour. The film culminates with the young priest having to perform an exorcism that the Welshman could not. Here is where the slow-paced film picks up with visions, phone calls from the dead, and a struggle against Ba’al. The rapid switch in tone and pacing results in a lop-sided film. Overly introspective in the beginning and overly burdened with spooky action, which is never really explained, in the end.
All in all, I give The Rite two and half upside-down crosses out of five. It kept the boredom at bay, but never really drew me in.