Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – The Last Rite

My notes on The Last Rite

Having moved into a new house, medical student Lucy (Bethan Waller) starts getting a bad feeling about the place … which her self-absorbed boyfriend Ben (Johnny Fleming) doesn’t want to know about, even when her phone captures an image of a sinister shadow figure in a hat at the window who wasn’t there when the photo was taken.

This low-key British supernatural drama – directed, produced, written, edited, shot and additional sound designed by Leroy Kincaide – begins by going over ground covered by Rodney Ascher’s documentary The Nightmare, one of the most influential under-the-radar horror films of the last decade, in exploring the phenomenon of night terrors, whereby people all round the world share the same dream of a shadowman in a hat standing over their bed.  However, it then skips tracks and has Lucy possessed by an entity whose bag of tricks includes speaking in languages the host doesn’t know and crawling around while gurning.  Father Roberts (Kit Smith) is called in and decides to rush through an exorcism, against the wishes of the church, with lost-his-faith pal Ray (Ian Macnaughton) for backup.

Kincaide may have stretched himself too thin by doing everything here, with the script notably weaker than the direction, photography and sound design.  The dialogue is often clunky, the pacing is weirdly off (just when it ought to be building to a climax, Roberts and Ray have a nice long chat that stops things dead), and the ‘based on true events’ plot feels more like ‘based on a bunch of earlier films based on true events’ with the inevitable nods to Poltergeist and The Entity along with a virtual reprise (with a cleaner mouth) of much of The Exorcist.  It does have a nice sense of ominous gloom and one or two gooseflesh-prompting moments.

Here’s the FrightFest listing


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