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the last rite

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‘The Last Rite’ review: Promising exorcism movie unable to deliver

Identity crisis.

The Last Rite is a different type of exorcism movie. The film is about a woman named Lucy (Bethan Waller) who has moved into a new home with her partner Ben (Johnny Fleming). Before long, problems with her relationship begin to appear while Lucy seems to be under attack from darker forces. Can she find the help she is looking for?

The pacing for the film is unlike any other in the genre. It is patient and deliberate as if building its characters and the relationship between Lucy and Ben. It is not a bad idea and is actually a refreshing change to exorcism movies. It seems like The Last Rite is going to do away with the internal strife in the church and gross out scenes and work on creating a world.

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Things never quite work out like that.

The first ninety minutes of The Last Rite does in fact focus on Lucy and Ben, but it also somehow manages to move too slowly and quickly at the same time. It is a neat trick that is seen almost immediately. Things start off typically enough. The couple have moved into a new place, are in love, and are financially comfortable. It seems like the calm that is often seen before the storm.

It is not long before it turns out Ben has what can be generously described as anger issues. He will suddenly go off on rages that seem unwarranted since The Last Rite has not shown any previous problems between the two. Even as things progress, Ben just comes off as a mean person as opposed to someone who is under the pressures of work. Making matters more complicated is he constantly changes between doting to abusive – sometimes in the same scene. He can be a coward then a hero within seconds.

It sounds like normal character development, albeit to an extreme degree. The issue is The Last Rite never does anything to make it seem like this is the case. The film takes its time in a number of scenes with Lucy and Ben, but there is no depth given to them. Lucy is anxious and frazzled while Ben is just confused. In other words, the movie spends a lot of time spinning its wheels.

This is actually a shame since it is a very interesting set up. While it is an exorcism film, the actual body contorting and religion shaming only takes place during the last fifteen or so minutes of The Last Rite. Everything slowly leads up to the actual exorcism, before the ultimate confrontation between good and evil. In theory, the people take center stage over the demons.

'The Last Rite' review: Promising exorcism movie unable to deliver

It is regrettable that it never quite works out. As with the rest of The Last Rite, the pacing takes away from things. While it tries to be different, the story is still very derivative. Everything that a person would expect can be found. The only difference is that instead of being spaced out over the course of a whole movie, it is squeezed into a time that is shorter than the average television sitcom. The rush to get everything in undermines the horror and what little character development there is.

The final act includes a pair of exposition dumps, an anticlimactic battle, and a crawl at the end that manages to be silly, funny, and insulting all at once. (The movie is one of those that was “inspired by true events”.) The Last Rite had some neat ideas. It actually could have been stood up as an example of a different way to do a much loved sub genre. Unfortunately, it ends up being an unoriginal time sink.

The Last Rite is scheduled to be released November 26

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