The Last Rite: A Lackluster Possession Story
The Last Rite, directed by Leroy Kincaide and starring Bethan Waller as Lucy, is a horror film that initially shows some promise but ultimately falls short of delivering anything new or exciting in the possession genre. Lucy, a medical student, starts experiencing sleep paralysis and encounters a mysterious hooded man in her home, pushing her to seek help from a local priest when she begins losing control of her body. Unfortunately, the film suffers from several significant issues, one of which being its lack of originality. The Last Rite fails to offer a fresh perspective on the horror genre, and its story and characters feel tired and uninspired.
A Promising Lead Performance
Bethan Waller’s portrayal of Lucy is undoubtedly the standout element of the film. She effectively carries the emotional weight of her tormented character, conveying fear and terror in a convincing manner. Even during the possession scenes where Lucy must portray madness and animalistic behavior, Waller’s performance is commendable. Johnny Fleming, playing Lucy’s boyfriend, also delivers a solid performance with the material given. However, his character is inconsistent and unlikable, making it difficult for the audience to invest in their relationship. His behavior oscillates between sweet and supportive to irrationally angry and neglectful, which ultimately detracts from his overall character development.
A Lack of Supportive Characters
The film not only suffers from the flaws in Lucy’s boyfriend’s character but also the general lack of support from other characters. Throughout the movie, there is a recurring theme of disbelief or apathy toward Lucy’s plight, as those around her fail to take meaningful action or offer assistance. While this narrative approach can be effective in generating sympathy for the protagonist, it requires a valid and consistent reason behind the doubt. In the case of Lucy, her character isn’t portrayed in a way that would naturally lead others to question her sanity or credibility. Consequently, the inaction of those around her feels contrived and forced, rather than a reflection of the narrative’s intended purpose.
A Formulaic Possession Story
The Last Rite treads familiar ground, presenting a formulaic possession story without adding any thematic relevance to connect the evil force to the characters. Attempts are made to establish a connection through dialogue, hinting at the stress that Lucy may be experiencing. However, this connection remains weak, and the metaphor lacks depth. The only potential source of complexity arises in the latter part of the film when the priest defies the institution to save Lucy. Unfortunately, this development occurs too late to have a significant impact, and it only serves as a diluted version of The Exorcist, rehashing similar themes without offering anything innovative or memorable. Even the exploration of sleep paralysis, while adequately portrayed, has been executed more effectively in other works such as “The Haunting of Hill House.”
Pacing Issues and an Underwhelming Climax
Although the film starts with a decent setup that piques the audience’s curiosity, The Last Rite suffers from pacing issues. There are moments where the progression feels repetitive and fails to advance the plot, develop characters, or deepen investment. Even the climactic exorcism scene falls flat, lacking the intensity and terror associated with more memorable films like The Exorcist. The execution lacks creativity, with unremarkable shots and predictable events that fail to leave a significant impact. Ultimately, the film concludes in an anticlimactic manner, further diminishing its overall appeal.
A Competent but Unremarkable Film
The Last Rite is a competently crafted film with commendable performances. However, its adherence to traditional possession story tropes and lack of originality hinder its potential impact. While I might be forgiving of familiar narratives if executed exceptionally well, this film fails to deliver on that front. Therefore, I can only recommend it to die-hard fans of exorcism and possession stories who are eager for any content within this subgenre. For everyone else, The Last Rite lacks the depth, scares, and memorability to provide a satisfying viewing experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is The Last Rite a completely original film?
No, The Last Rite follows a formulaic possession storyline and doesn’t offer any groundbreaking elements. It lacks originality and fails to bring anything new to the genre.
2. Are there any standout performances in the film?
Bethan Waller delivers a remarkable performance as Lucy, effectively portraying her torment and fear. Her commitment to the role shines through, making her the highlight of the film.
3. Does the film make effective use of the sleep paralysis aspect?
The portrayal of sleep paralysis in The Last Rite is serviceable but not particularly groundbreaking. Other works such as “The Haunting of Hill House” have explored this phenomenon in a more compelling and effective manner.
4. Does the climax of the film live up to expectations?
Unfortunately, the climax of The Last Rite is underwhelming. It lacks intensity, memorable visuals, and fails to deliver the anticipated scares. Even when judged independently, the climax falls short of leaving a lasting impression.
5. Who would enjoy watching The Last Rite?
The Last Rite is primarily recommended for die-hard fans of exorcism and possession stories who are willing to overlook its shortcomings. For general audiences seeking a fresh and innovative horror experience, this film may not satisfy their expectations.