The use of effective scores and creepy imagery can make for a very scary film. Case in point would be The Exorcist. The Rite isn’t as chilling or as haunting as The Exorcist, but it does make for a thought-provoking and sometimes uneasy horror.
Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) is studying to be a priest, but his faith is far from strong. He gets assigned to an exorcism course in the vatican that teaches the methods needed for doing an exorcism. Kovak meets with Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins) and he sees Lucas perform several exorcisms, but Kovak is not sold on whether the exorcisms are real or the product of mentally sick people.
The Rite is sometimes brilliant, sometimes chilling and at times it veers into the boring territory. But the sheer excellence of Anthony Hopkins holds everything together. Hopkins is a character who is very hard to read. I was never sure if he was an honest if slightly weird man or maybe a very cunning and deceitful man. But by the end of the film we know what sort of person he is. Hopkins character is fully fleshed out and interesting, but Colin O’Donoghue’s character is less interesting.
O’Donoghue is an adequate actor but he’s a bit bland. His character is meant to be going through a rough ride of loss and confusion, but O’Donoghue never portrays much emotion at any point. Even in the finale, where many emotions are at the forefront I never felt his pain.
The film successfully creates some scary scenes, especially in the last half of the film, it gets really dark and ominous. The exorcism scenes are really nail-biting, making my popcorn consumption quite difficult.
The Rite is much more than a cheap horror flick, as it delves into topics of exorcism and faith. The final twenty minutes are well delivered and Hopkins even gets to channel a Hannibal Lector type performance, something I have no problem with.