Reviews | Written by Martin Unsworth 28/08/2021

THE LAST RITE [FrightFest 2021]

This debut feature from writer/director Leroy Kincaide sets up a very British take on evil entities and possession that, while not breaking any new ground, has some very effective moments.

Lucy (Bethan Waller) has just moved in with her boyfriend Ben (Johnny Fleming) and begins to experience strange things. Figures in her peripheral vision, cupboards opening by themselves, and a crow killing itself by flying into her window are just the start. When things continue, and Ben’s workload causes him to behave like a dick most of the time, she is convinced there’s something wrong. A bizarre encounter with a woman in a pub toilet ends with her being told “don’t let him in”, worrying her even more. However, the nightmare is just beginning for Lucy as she tries to find out more about ‘the man in the hat’.

Touching on urban legends such as shadow men and genuine medical issues like sleep paralysis and night terrors, Kincaide’s film builds an oppressive atmosphere of dread in the first half before switching to a more conventional demonic possession tale later. It’s here that Bethan Waller demonstrates some fantastic acting, particularly when speaking in tongues. Renegade priests get involved as the film heads towards the climactic exorcism.

For a low-budget independent movie, The Last Rite has the potential to be accessible to a more mainstream audience thanks to Kincaide’s impressive cinematography and the overall production values. While the acting is variable, it’s proficient enough to keep the viewer engaged with the story.