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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Hopkins Rite, others wrong in film

By Joshua Knopp/managing editor

Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins) escorts Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) through Vatican City to the home of a possessed child in The Rite. Lucas is an experienced exorcist while Kovak is following along to learn the trade.
Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

The Rite has a great supporting cast and the fringe parts of its plot are well done, but both story and crew have big holes in their centers.

The movie starts when Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) decides to attend the seminary for a free college education and then skips out before taking his vows. However, his teacher tells him that if he drops out immediately, he’ll be saddled with a student loan. Because of Kovak’s experience as a mortician, he is sent to Rome to study exorcism. When he struggles in the class, Kovak is sent for tutoring with Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins).

The Rite’s slow pacing will bother most audiences but not to the point of dislike. The sub-arcs are so well-fused with the main plot that this length is necessary to the film, not to mention that the sub-arcs are much better than the main plot.

Kovak’s journeys lead him toward his faith, away from his father (Rutger Hauer) and into a half-romance, half-interview between himself and a reporter (Alice Braga) taking the exorcism course for her paper. These sub-arcs give The Rite life.

The same cannot be said for the central plot about Kovak’s study with and exorcism of Father Lucas. The storyline draws far too heavily on stock from The Exorcist, borrowing characters (the doubting priest and the experienced exorcist), effects (physical degeneration of the possessed) and concepts (the possessed knowing things they couldn’t possibly) copiously from the ’73 classic. This isn’t especially bad. It’s just been seen too many times before.

In addition to taking profusely from The Exorcist, The Rite repeats many of the newer trends in horror movies. The too-vague-to-be-scary “inspired by true events” moniker is attached to the film, and, while special effects aren’t relied upon as heavily as they are in some films, they still play a main role toward the end of the movie.

O’Donoghue doesn’t help make The Rite more unique. Surrounded by a highly talented supporting cast (Hopkins, Braga, Hauer and Ciaran Hinds), O’Donoghue looks lost as the main character.

Exorcism movies seem to have run their logical course at this point. The Exorcist and its sequels brought exorcism into filmdom, and only a handful of variations can be placed on the concept. The Rite is good enough that it doesn’t fall victim, but pretty soon these movies are going to become annoying.

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