By Gary Murray

Starring Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue, Alice Braga, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones and Rutger Hauer

Directed by Mikael Hafstrom

Written by Michael Petroni

MPAA Rating PG-13

Running time 112 min

Selig Film Rating Cable

Films about demonic possession that are 'based on true events' are rarer than true demonic possession. Most of these films are just fantastical tales of the Dark Lord taking over the body and soul of the innocent. In The Rite, the latest version of this tale the Devil is still up to his own tricks.

Colin O'Donoghue stars as Michael, a kid who has to make a choice of going into one of the family businesses, either become a priest or become a mortician. Michael chooses the former. Flashing forward four years, Michael has the collar but doesn't have the belief. After he tells his mentor priest (Toby Jones) his decision to leave, the mentor tells him that if he leaves the priesthood, he will be finically responsible to pay back all the education he received. The mentor suggests that since Michael is used to being around the dead, he might consider taking classes in exorcism at the Vatican.

In Rome, he finds that the group studying the ancient rites has priests, nuns and a single babe reporter. The instructor suggests that Michael see Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), a priest who has some unorthodox ways to rid the bodies of evil spirits. Michael still thinks that Father Lucas is a faker, using parlor tricks to convince the naive of the supernatural. They deal with a pregnant teen who Lucas believes is possessed and Michael thinks needs psych help. When nails come from her mouth, Michael begins to wonder about all that he believes.

After a death, Michael begins to notice changes he cannot explain with science. Both Michael and Father Lucas have their faith tested in a final battle that sums up The Rite.

Director Mikael Hafstrom seems to be hampered by his PG-13 rating. The film never goes for the true scares and gives the audience those 'throw the cat at the window' style jumps. All the best horrors are in the R rating, with loads of blood and buckets of bile. This just doesn't deliver any other the top thrills.

Though,Mikael Hafstrom does give a great Travelodge of all that is Rome. The shots are just wonderful in composition, it is just there isn't that much horror with all the pretty pictures.

Anthony Hopkins seems to be channeling his Hannibal Lector character with parts of Father Lucas. This Oscar winner just seems to be slumming it in a role that is beneath his acting resume. There is never a true sense of terror with the role and he just seems to be in the film to cash a paycheck.

The idea of the film is 'choosing not to believe in the Devil won't protect you from him'. That basic driving force behind The Rite. It is a great idea for a movie, but this time out it just doesn't work that well.

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