Michael accompanies Father Lucas to several exorcisms and initially remains skeptical, but when the possession victims express personal knowledge about Michael's past -- particularly his relationship with his parents -- he begins to wonder if there's truly something sinister afoot. Teaming with a journalist named Angelina (Alice Braga) reporting on the exorcist training, he investigates the mysteries surrounding the cases of supposed demonic possession and finds that the next victim could be someone close to him.
The End Result
That said, for a horror movie, it's also lacking in any genuine scares. It plays more like a mystery or thriller than a fright flick, and sporting a PG-13 rating, it fails to generate much of an edge. Interestingly, director Mikael Hafstrom delivered ample spookiness in 2007's 1408 with the same rating, showcasing the difference between adapting a Stephen King story and a nonfiction book about priest training.
To its credit, the script remains interesting even with a dearth of emotional impact. The protagonist is the typical cinematic priest-without-faith archetype, and O'Donoghue portrays him with the same blandness with which he's written. Hopkins carries the film, contributing a much needed sense of humor and a character with whom we can sympathize. While the exorcism scenes bring little new to the table, Hopkins' character lends a playful air, and when he himself is targeted by a demon, the film takes an intriguing spin on the standard exorcism scenario.
- Acting: C+ (Hopkins' charisma struggles to make up for O'Donoghue and Braga's blandness.)
- Direction: B- (Attractive but lacking in scares.)
- Script: C+ (Adds mild originality to the exorcism sub-genre.)
- Gore/Effects: C (Generic CGI effects.)
- Overall: C+ (Solidly entertaining without becoming exploitive of the content, although the horror elements are ineffective.)
The Rite is directed by Mikael Hafstrom and is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for disturbing thematic material, violence, frightening images, and language including sexual references. Release date: January 28, 2011.