It’s hard to deny that The Rite is guilty of sins against its audience. But you have to admire filmmakers who can pretend that The Exorcist never existed as a hit film, a bestseller, or a spawner of multiple ripoffs. Director Mikael Hafstrom plods along unearthing clichés with a sense of real discovery.
There’s Anthony Hopkins, always a hoot to watch even when his motivation is pure paycheck, playing old-school exorcist Father Lucas Trevant. His job is train Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue), fresh out of the seminary, in the art of drawing out Satan for a good bashing. Their subject is a pregnant woman (Marta Gastini) who has the good taste while being possessed to keep her head from spinning and upchucking pea soup. Hafstrom relies on atmosphere to scare us. He shouldn’t have. It doesn’t. By the end, The Rite goes wrong in every way.