The Rite

1 out of 5 stars
The Rite

Time Out says

1 out of 5 stars

Evil, we cast you out! Studio heads must feel like exorcists come January, when all their lousy product that tested poorly gets a stealthy (and, hopefully, brief) release. The Rite---down to its coyly portentous title---fits this pattern perfectly; can there be such a huge audience for the umpteenth "true story" the Vatican doesn't want us to know about?

Someone's got to keep Anthony Hopkins in fava beans. He does his blinking, don't-test-my-patience thing as a maverick priest, Father Lucas, during the first half of this Rome-set thriller (based on Matt Baglio's "nonfiction" study The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist). Into the crusty cleric's orbit comes Michael (bland O'Donoghue), an American novitiate who has doubts about his faith, certainly about possessed Italian girls doing the crab walk. Still, Michael must hear the Welshman out---that is, when he's not attending ridiculous exorcism lectures offered by Life During Wartime's Ciarn Hinds.

You wait, bored, with demons crawling up your ass, for the good stuff to start. And when it finally does---all-white contact lenses, pulsating veins, barking voices from another dimension, etc.---it's so typical, the mind still can't help but wander. Is Hopkins's long-telegraphed transformation into a jabbering monster really that far from his slurping Hannibal Lecter? (Those who hold The Silence of the Lambs as a holy work of art might want to avoid this one.) The man's gotten more mileage from a glazed grin than Jack Nicholson has from devilish eyebrows. Hollywood's hocus-pocus machine has turned out swill like this before, but even ultra-observant Catholics will find their interest waning. Hammy acting should make nonbelievers of the rest.

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