About a quarter of the way into The Rite
, a veteran exorcist chides a twentysomething seminarian for not being especially impressed with the symptoms of a teenage girl believed to be possessed by a demon, asking, “What did you expect? Spinning heads? Pea soup?” At that moment, director Mikael Hafstrom has acknowledged the elephant in the room for all demonic possession movies -- William Friedkin started the game with The Exorcist
in 1973, and no one has topped him yet, or even matched him for sheer unnerving tension. The best most directors can manage is to make it into the same ballpark without looking silly, and hard as he tries, Hafstrom falls short ...