The Rite

Composed by: Alex Heffes

Distributed by: Silva Screen Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            While it’s previews paint The Rite as a new Exorcist-style horror flick, and indeed it does contain some of the major themes of The Exorcist, The Rite is less about the horror aspects and more about regaining a lost faith.  Based on the book, The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, the movie stars Colin O’Donoghue as Michael Kovak, a young man who joins the seminary for all of the wrong reasons.  On the day he is to be ordained, he writes a letter of resignation, but his superior can see that Michael has a calling to the priesthood, even if Michael can’t.  Believing that by doing so he can restore Michael’s lost faith, Father Mathew (Toby Jones) sends Michael to Rome to take a class on exorcism.  It is here that Michael meets Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins) and his life and everything he ever believed in are put to the test.

            The musical score of The Rite was composed by Alex Heffes, one of the leading composers from the United Kingdom.  Having graduated Oxford with a first-class degree, Heffes went on to work with numerous bands, expanding his horizons as he wrote and arranged music for such diverse performers as steel bands, symphony orchestras and artists like Elton John and members of Blur.  From there, he went on to musical scoring, running the gamut of movie genres and composing musical scores for such films as The Last King of Scotland, Trauma, Imagine Me and You, The Parole Officer and State of Play

            The musical score for The Rite is extremely dramatic and often times spooky thanks to the genre of the film it was written for.  At times, the musical composition can be quite beautiful as we listen to the combined efforts of harps, violins, and woodwinds.  Then there are times when the score becomes very dark with celli, bassoons, basses, horns played in lower registries and background choir vocals.  These moments are all easy to take in. 

            It is the unexpected moments of crashing percussion and loud blares of horns that come in out of nowhere that make you jump and add a bit of danger to what otherwise might be considered beautiful music.  You can be listening to a nicely lilting piece of musical composition and almost see the beauty it represents, then be attacked by a blast of music and suddenly things become dark and scary again.  Woodwinds represent the sound of drafty winds howling, percussion offers up the sound of a hammer striking an anvil, suddenly the strings begin to pick up pace and grow in loudness and intensity and you are thrown instantly on your guard.

            The musical score Alex Heffes composed for The Rite serves to describe both the beauty of the faith and its darker regions.  The film’s director, Mikael Håfström summed The Rite Soundtrack perfectly when he stated, “There is much here than just supporting moments of horror or suspense, so I hope this album shows the range of music Alex composed for The Rite: from the unsettling to the beautiful, and never to far apart.”  This album is an excellent example of what Alex Heffes is capable of as a composer, both the beauty and the horror, the moments that lull you into a sense of security and the ones that put you on edge looking over your shoulder.  This album is a great example of what a soundtrack for a supernatural horror film that deals with philosophical themes should sound like.


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