The Rite (New Line, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 114 min.). I must admit I enjoy films about demonic possession. It probably is my Catholic upbringing. “The Exorcist” still gives me goose bumps and oh that evil child in “The Omen.” Thus, I look forwarded eagerly to “The Rite.” After all, it stars Anthony Hopkins, the man who has scared us in so many films, including “The Silence of the Lambs.” However, the first clue that I might be disappointed is the film is only rated PG-13. How scary can that be?

Well it turns out to be very creepy in spots, such as a second possession sequence involving a pregnant 16-year old. That gave me chills. But some of the stuff towards the end, like the whole mule thing, did not make a lot of sense; and I really doubted that seminary student Michael Kovak (debut actor Colin O’Donoghue), who had doubted his faith throughout most of the film (due to his mother’s death and the fact that his father, played by Rutger Hauer, was the mortician who worked on her body) could claim enough moral high ground to cast out a real baddy demon by the film’s end.

Kovak goes into the seminary feeling that, if nothing else, he will get a free college education. However, after he submits his resignation, he is sent to study exorcism in Rome with Father Xavier (Ciaran Hinds). This is the part where the “inspired by true events” kicks in, in that the Vatican really did run an exorcism school and a book was written about it and Father Gary Thomas, who, we learn in the extras, performs two or three exorcisms a week in California. (Even for California, that sounds a bit excessive.) Alice Braga plays journalist Angeline (a stand-in for book author Matt Baglio), also taking the exorcist course. Father Xavier sends Kovak to study with Father Lucas Trevant (Hopkins) and immediately he is thrust into an attempted exorcism of the young girl. Afterwards, Father Lucas asks Kovak, “What did you expect? Spinning heads? Pea Soup?” Those are direct references to “The Exorcist,” of course. By film’s end, Hopkins is doing his usual over-acting thing and it is not quite as effective this time.

Extras include interviews with Father Gary, author Baglio (6:40 making of); an alternate ending that is anything but the chilling one promised on the package, but it is more of what I expected, as a certain bracelet makes a reappearance; and four deleted scenes (12:39), including a kiss in a double nightmare. Grade: film 2.25 stars; extras 2 stars

Vanishing on 7th Street (Magnet/Magnolia, Blu-ray or standard DVD, R, 91 min.). This film has an R rating, but it is almost a complete misfire by director Brad Anderson (films “Next Stop Wonderland,” “The Machinist,” 10 episodes of TV’s “Fringe”). One night in Detroit, all the power goes out and nearly all the people disappear, leaving only piles of clothing. This is the most effective part of the film, with John Leguizamo as movie theater projectionist Paul, saved by the flashlight hat he wears. When emergency power comes back, he just sees piles of clothes on chairs and in the lobby. Then he comes across a guard, who looks into a dark spot and simply disappears.

Is this the Rapture foretold in the Scriptures? Or some alien invasion, as the shadows sometimes take people shapes? Certainly director Anderson and screenwriter Anthony Jaswinski have no desire to let us know. So, the creep factor loses interest fast. There is one tavern that has a generator running in the basement. Young James (a fine Jacob Latimore) has kept it running, awaiting his mother’s return. Stumbling across the tavern are, first, Luke (Hayden Christensen), a field reporter for TV Channel 7, and then, Rosemary (Thandie Newton), a physical therapist in grief over her missing infant. The whole film is like an extended episode of “The Twilight Zone” (whose season four comes out on Blu-ray this week), complete with a nod to the TTZ episode in which Burgess Meredith plays the last man on Earth (here, Luke steps on eyeglasses). However, the film is poorly executed, including one bizarre, unexplained episode involving a long, lighted tunnel under the bar.

Well, Anderson does explain that in his audio commentary, which is the most interesting thing on the disc (the Blu-ray version is very sharp so the shadows look cool). The three alternate endings really only involve a couple different shots and a sign change. There also is a making-of feature (7:04), in which Jaswinski says he “always wanted to do a horror movie in a bar.” Grade 2 stars; extras 2.5 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Additional reviews are available online at and include “The Mechanic,” “The Roommate” and “Daydream Nation.”