Starring: Tabitha Morella
Written & Directed By: Alicia Conway
Rite shows a ritual that a young girl has to go through, marking the coming of age in her culture. It is not a ritual that is existent in our world, but it draws very close to reality. It has an extremely intense feel to it making it uncomfortable throughout. What really makes it the most disturbing is the girl’s family and their reaction. We witness something traumatic and horrible happening to this girl. It is clear that she is scared and distant from those around her. She doesn’t feel an emergence in to womanhood. There is no meaningful impact; there is just pain. Everyone around her constantly has huge smiles on their faces. There is celebration and screams of joy even as she is going through this. No one stops to acknowledge how she is feeling. The fact that they could act in this way is repulsive and truly alienates this poor girl.
There isn’t much dialogue in the film and there is even less from our main character than anyone else. When characters are speaking to her in the film it has a terrifying irony, really helping build the tension. Most of the time when we see these people they look distant and blurred, clearly not as kind and caring towards this girl as their words would suggest. This really gives us a dreamlike state and exemplifies that who they appear to be and what they say is just an illusion. The score in the film was incredible and really brought out the emotion, fear, and tension together wonderfully. Still, it would have been just as engaging without this. The visuals and what we are seeing are simply that powerful. Rite really grabs you and takes a hold. From the first second you are so invested in the film and it remains to be just as powerful through the very end.
You watch a film like Rite and all you can think is how horrible it is and you question how anyone could do that to someone they loved let alone allow for this to be done to everyone around them. The film is based on rituals with consideration on many that do exists in the world. Many are physical and traumatic just like the one we see here. What this really hits on though is that there is no real explanation or reasoning for doing what they are. It’s tradition as we can see everyone else in the town has gone through it. What really changes though? Should everyone in this community be subjected to this just because someone before them did and now it’s a tradition?
Rite exemplifies how harmful blindly accepting tradition can be. It doesn’t have to be in the sense that we see it here. It applies to many aspects of our every day lives, it just does this in a darkly fascinating way. It’s incredible in just about every aspect: sound, visuals, and characterizations. The film is so impressive mostly because it is very simplistic. With shorts usually less is more and Rite definitely executes that perfectly. It takes one event that is symbolic of lifestyles that we cringe at as well as those that are more present in our own. Rite is a very intense, engaging, and powerful short.