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First Look Review - THE LAST RITE

the last rite review
A medical student is menaced by a demonic entity.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Leroy Kincaide

Starring: Bethan Waller, Hella Stichlmair, Joe James, Tara Hoyos-Martinez, Johnny Fleming, Deborah Blake, David Kerr

the last rite poster

There’s a disturbance in a suburban house, where it’s all sombre grey walls and ominously portentous art, but there’s a bloody room, which a priest enters grimly.

This is the pre-credits scene, and then we are thrust into the world of Lucy and Ben (Bethan Waller and Johnny Fleming), a couple who, at the beginning at least, have a sweet, snappy rapport that’s believable.

After minimal time is spent establishing their characters, strange things start happening in the house. Unfortunately only Lucy seems to see them, trapped in their home as she is while finishing her dissertation.

the last rite review

Lucy starts to see a shape - a hatted man in a raincoat that appears as a shadowy figure just in hidden corners or doorways (though she manages to capture him in a photo which seems like a silly direction for the film to go in considering it's summarily dropped as a story beat, when in reality it would have been a big deal).


After finding no comfort in sharing this information with her partner, who dismisses it from the outset, she tells her best friend, who in turn shares a story from her youth about a witch that can inhabit places where relationships are bad.

As time goes on, Lucy's mental health declines as her relationship breaks down and ‘the shadow’ enjoys tormenting her.

the last rite review

It transpires that her past involves fervently religious parents who abused her in their belief that she needed God's help in defeating her ‘other’-seeing abilities.

She eventually contacts the inevitable priest who becomes involved in the shenanigans at the house. There’s some body-horror, an exorcism or two, the usual…


As written and directed by Leroy Kincaide, this is an oddly slow movie that seems to drag its feet for the majority of the runtime; the pace is doddering at best, case in point - a scene near the end of the film when the action is ramping up only to shudder to a halt while two ministers discuss their faith over an extraordinarily testing five minutes of just talking heads.

The direction is serviceable, with the production design nicely minimal with a few striking pieces adding visual interest at least, and one or two well realised scenes of practical effects.

the last rite review

A strong central performance by Waller is eye-catching but her support players are fairly average across the board. This one also really suffers from an underused soundtrack which might have helped build an almost completely absent atmosphere. The screenplay is given to some flowery language and tells a story we have all seen before; and its insistence on throwing everything in (supernatural, psychological, spiritual, night terrors, grief, childhood trauma) and seeking no real resolution, just feels muddied by the film’s finale.

In the end, despite all its threads, this is essentially a run of the mill demonic possession story with nothing new to say on the well-worn subject.

The Last Rite is on US/CAN VOD from November 26th. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.



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