Friday, January 28, 2011

Review: The Rite

If there's one thing Anthony Hopkins knows, it's horror films. Since gaining notoriety after portrayng perhaps cinema's most infamous villain, Hopkins has never stopped being creepy. So it was only a matter of time since the genre's most credible actor met its most popular subject- demon possession. Mournfully, not even Father Hopkins could save this film's condemned spirit.

Man, Anthony Hopkins is getting old. I hope this isn't contributing somehow to his judgement on scripts, which has been lacking lately. After I saw the trailer for this movie, I was hoping that Hopkins would redeem himself for his performance in Joe Johnston's remake of The Wolfman. Though the performances here are by far the best thing about The Rite, everything else isn't quite up to par.
The story here is intriguing but its script is weak. Matt Baglio and the Petronis' script is uneven and although its moral overtone is rooted in faith, tends to feel more agnostic as it doesn't feel like it knows what its going for. First it starts out as a promising dramatic thriller centered around a religious debate, then it quickly abandons ship as everything shifts towards over-the-top, supernatural camp with unimpressive GCI.
What's more disappointing still are the nonexistent scares. Everything in this film feels way too familiar for anything to be effective. It's jam-packed with loud noises coupled with intense music, deep, inhuman voices and strength, leather bonds, demonic hallucinations, vials of holy water, a lot of blood, crucifixes galor, and even a couple of deaths for good measure. If any of this rings a bell it's because we've seen it all before which makes The Rite depressingly boring.
As I mentioned earlier, the performances are the best thing about The Rite. Actually, they are pretty good. Anthony Hopkins is able to make the best out of a bad situation and he almost always gives a terrific performance. His brilliance shines through once more as Father Lucas Trevant, a famous exorcist in Rome who now must face the Devil himself. Colin O'Donoghue is convincing as an atheistic priest sent to Rome to learn the trade of exorcism from Father Lucas.
Sadly, the excellent performances do little to help out this film. The uneven feel of the script feels even moreso when the overdone, ultimately anti-climactic, resolution hits and once it did, I couldn't help but feel like this has all been done before and in much better films than this one.

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