Written by: Matt Patti | November 25th, 2021
The Last Rite (Leroy Kincaide, 2021) 2 out of 4 stars.
As far as exorcism films go, most of them follow a similar formula. Most also tend to fall in the shadow of 1973’s The Exorcist. Some include original plot points or tell the story in a unique way in an attempt to differentiate themselves from similar films, while others come off as being a beat-by-beat retelling of the 1973 original. Unfortunately, director Leroy Kincaide’s The Last Rite falls more into the latter category.
The Last Rite stars Bethan Waller as Lucy, a medical student who lives with her boyfriend Ben (Johnny Fleming). Lucy begins to see a strange dark figure, wearing a hat, around the house; there are other unexplainable occurrences, as well. When Lucy tells Ben what she is experiencing, he doesn’t believe her at all and even blames her for the strange happenings. Feeling alone and desperate, Lucy seeks help on her own. She finds a priest named Father Roberts (Kit Smith) who is willing to help her out. Soon enough, Lucy is fully taken over by the dark entity in the home and becomes possessed. Can Father Roberts save her before it’s too late?
The Last Rite does not necessarily do anything wrong, per se, but it is so unoriginal and bland that it will bore anyone who has seen a similar film. It offers absolutely nothing new or fresh to the exorcism subgenre of horror. It is not always necessary to be unique and different, but the films that do feature stories we’ve all seen before and still succeed are the ones that are able to successfully execute horror, suspense, and tense sequences. While The Last Rite features a few creepy visuals, it is not truly frightening whatsoever.
The film does offer one aspect that I find quite compelling, though: the relationship between Lucy and Ben, and Ben’s not believing Lucy even though so many crazy things have happened. The fact that Ben is supposed to be comforting his girlfriend and making her feel safe but is instead actually making the situation worse and becomes aggressive and angry when she mentions the house being haunted leaves Lucy feeling trapped and hopeless. This plot point engages the viewer throughout the first half of the film, but unfortunately once Ben comes to the realization that something is indeed wrong, all of that tension is lost. From there on, the film follows the cookie-cutter route of a typical exorcism film and offers no new surprises and enters no new territory.
Again, The Last Rite isn’t a poor-quality film, but the weight of its clichés, uninteresting characters, and lack of effective scares pull it down. Perhaps if you were to show this film to someone who had never seen an exorcism-based film before, they may enjoy it and find it serviceable. But for anyone who has seen any film that is even remotely similar to this, the film will likely not hold their interest. Though it features solid technical work and high-production values, it is not distinguishable enough and will likely be forgotten. The Last Rite will fade from memory just like so many other films that attempt to recreate The Exorcist long-ago magic but ultimately fail to capture what made that classic so special.