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“Based on a True Story:” five words that a horror flick inserts at the beginning to set the audience sinking further into their seats before anything happens.

At least, that’s what film intended the audience to do with the opening lines ­— but “The Rite” loses us soon after.

Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) heads to Italy for a convention on exorcisms at the insistence of a priest at his seminary school.

The skeptic in him can’t help but balk at how preposterous it all sounds – holy water, demons possessing people and medicine that does nothing to help the afflicted.

The doubter is put to the test and so is the audience as we encounter Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins), an exorcism specialist.

Things start getting unstable when Trevant works on the exorcism of a young girl pregnant by her father.

After a series of interactions with her and a few revelations about Kovak’s past (i.e. daddy issues and going into the family mortuary business), Trevant’s soul can’t take anymore. Now he is the one who needs the exorcism. Can Kovak overcome his doubt to fight off the evil spirits plaguing the priest?

Other than strange body contortions and some great makeup for Hopkins, it’s not Friedkin’s “The Exorcist.” Even Trevant notes, “What did you expect? Twisting heads and pea soup?”

He even answers his cell phone in the middle of an exorcism on the young girl. It’s clear the Devil can wait and exorcism is much more subdued than audiences were led to believe almost 37 years ago.

Did director Mikael Hafstrom forget “The Exorcist” exists? To try to update the classic, Hafstrom recognized that music, makeup and a demonic voice wasn’t enough, so he thought the Satanic mule would be the next best option. The red eyes are just the finishing touch to this ridiculous demon whose hoof prints are found on the body of a young boy visited by the image in his dreams.

Talk about an amateur hour. Not one person in the audience screamed.

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