THE RITE – Right into the trash

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Too bad for the producers of THE RITE that so much of the world knows William Peter Blatty’s novel and screenplay for the 1973 film, THE EXORCIST, directed by William Friedkin. Since its premiere it has remained a leading contender as the best horror film ever made. Fan clubs devoted to The Exorcist are buzzing all the time, so is the social networking. Thus, it was easily predictable where director Mikael Håfström’s The Rite was headed, when it lacked the fire to get there or was thrown off course by some other demon-idea along the way. The Rite is neither scary or spiritually challenging. It is the same hack stuff of every other devil-chasing knock-off, including Blatty’s own sequels. Not even the presence of Sir Anthony Hopkins as the priest exorcist can boot this project up from the lower depths. Hopkins’ delivery is an off-the-collar re-hash of his otherwise notable schtick in Remains of the Day, Howards End, and both appearances as “Hannibal Lecter”. As “Father Lucas Trevant”, his no-frills/don’t bump into the furniture approach smacks of cue card recitation. As his younger assistant, the skeptical seminarian “Michael Kovak”, 30-year-old Colin O’Donoghue runs the gamut between totally lackluster and mostly boring with a bit of wafer-thin yelling thrown in just for the hell of it.

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ANTHONY HOPKINS. Photo, Egon Endrenyi

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COLIN O’DONOGHUE. Photo, Egon Endrenyi

The Rite begins with a quote from the late Pope John Paul II:
“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.” An interesting notion, considering that JP2 is on the fast-track to becoming a full-fledged saint. The film ends with a reminder of a 2004 directive from the Vatican calling for a trained exorcist to be stationed in every diocese in the world. That means 14 new jobs for California and 195 nation-wide. The stipulation is – according to The Rite – the priest must absolutely believe in and declare his belief in the existence of the Devil – no matter what Traditional AKA the possessor may use, i.e., Lucifer, Belial, Beelzebub, Samael, etc., in order to effectively exorcize said demon from whoever is possessed. That alone ought to upset the atmosphere at the local rectory.

Some will find comfort in knowing that the All-Knowing already knows – and knew! – all of the aforementioned, including the motives and capital behind the creation of this really lousy excuse for a film.

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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