THE RITE Well, at least he's not playing Hannibal Lecter again.

IT'S TRUE: Religion is scary! Throw some pea soup and a bit of crab walking at that truism, and you've got the makings of a pretty good horror film... if your name is William Friedkin and it's 1973. Alas, The Rite is no The Exoricist. It's not much of anything really: It's boring when it should be scary; it stars a milquetoast Colin O'Donoghue as neophyte priest Michael when it should be all about Anthony Hopkins' exorcist, Father Lucas; and it's crammed with neither-here-nor-there "scare factors" like a plague of frogs (cute!) and a glossy, red-eyed mule (somebody get that horsey a carrot. He looks sad).

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Much like Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat Pray Love, The Rite is the story of a lost, lonely person who travels to an exotic locale to find himself. Will he or won't he discover his inner beauty—preferably while nabbing himself a devilishly good-looking man? Here, young seminary student Michael has just pulled one over on the Catholic Church, scoring a free education even though he has no intention of becoming a priest. (Ha! Oh snap, Catholic Church!) Michael's best bet for staving off student loan debt is attending exorcism school in Rome, learning from Father Lucas, a doughy, demon-fightin' American priest. But then of course the devil gets his tenterhooks into Father Lucas, and it looks like Michael might embark on a spiritual journey after all... preferably while nabbing himself that hot hunk Satan!

Oh, also: There's some junk about Michael having daddy issues. The devil makes a lot of rumbling bowel noises. There's some convoluted nonsense about a cult of charm bracelet-wearing Satanists. And Anthony Hopkins looks like an arthritic Mordor refugee. While it's not nearly as atrocious as watching middle-aged women trying to get their groove on, The Rite is still a dull vacation to a lesser circle of hell.

SLAY Film Fest
In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30