HOLLYWOOD—Anthony Hopkins is a very scary man in “The Rite.” Though that isn’t a big shocker for fans of his work, who have seen him portray the most maniacal serial killing cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lector. I assure you this film pushes the strengths of Hopkins into becoming even scarier than ever before. In a story that is inspired by a true event, Hopkins plays a priest who not only battles the devil, he becomes possessed by the evil demon himself.
The official synopsis states, “The battle against the Devil, which is the principal task of Saint Michael the Archangel, is still being fought today, because the Devil is still alive and active in the world.” -Pope John Paul II ”˜The Rite’ is a supernatural thriller that uncovers the Devil’s reach to even one of the holiest places on Earth. Inspired by true events, the film follows seminary student Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue), who is sent to study exorcism at the Vatican in spite of his own doubts about the controversial practice and even his own faith.”
O’Donoghue does an incredible job as a naysayer who finds out firsthand what danger lurks within the Vatican walls and how even holy men can be engulfed by evil. It could be said that Anthony Hopkins has become lazy as an actor and has decided to become typecast as a menacing character who is filled by evil. That would be a fair assessment of his acting up until this point. In “The Rite” he has an almost vulnerable sense about him that leaves the viewer feeling empathy for him until the very end of the film.
Director Mikael Hafstrom has a strange but fascinating eye for filming night scenes. However, his work is excellent and his choices in this film are nothing short of perfection. This is definitely a suspenseful horror film, and not for the faint of heart. O’Donoghue, however, outshines the Academy AwardÂ® winning actor Hopkins and delivers a fearless and exhilarating performance that will surely garner him more work in films in the future.
“The Rite” receives Four of Five Stars from this reviewer. It opens this week in theaters nationwide.