Writer: Joe Barton (Screenplay) Adam Nevill (Novel)
Starring: Rafe Spall, Robert James-Collier, Arsher Ali, Sam Troughton, Paul Reid, Maria Erwolter
Plot: A group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that’s stalking them.
Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Rollercoaster Ride of a Horror
Story: The Ritual starts as four friends Luke (Spall), Hutch (James-Collier), Phil (Ali) and Dominic (Troughton) head off to Sweden for a hiking holiday in memory of the fifth member of the group who was murdered in a robbery gone wrong. Along the Swedish hill range Dominic gets hurt leading to the group needing to look for a shortcut.
The shortcut takes them through the woods where strange things start to occur and before long the four friends find themselves suffering nightmares. The friends must remain calm to make it out alive but with a shimmering tension between them, it will be a true test of their friendship against an unknown evil force hunting them down.
Thoughts on The Ritual
Characters – Luke is or main character, he lives everyday with regret because he didn’t help their other friend during the robbery, he is on this trip because it was their wish and celebrate his life. Hutch would be considered the leader of the group when it comes to holidays, he takes control of the hike making sure everyone has supplies, rest and even finds the shortcut to help make Dominic’s pain less. Phil does feel like the state the obvious guy in the group, he likes to make a laugh out of everything but when things get serious he is the quickest to get paranoid. Dominic is the butt of most jokes, he gets nearly all the funniest lines in the movie but is the one that would say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Between these four character we do get excellent banter which helps us want to care about the guys on their trip.
Performances – Rafe Spall is the biggest name of the four guys and he shows with the most difficult role to play that he can shine through once again. Rob, Arsher and Sam are all good through the film showing they can make the most out of their own characters.
Story – The story does feel cut and dry easy to follow, four guys on a holiday try to take a shortcut and walk into an evil they can’t explain. Simple, right, well that is all you need in horror, we get the lost in the woods idea once again but, what is wrong with that, it works, the evil or creature after them, does become original by the end. There is one small issue is had with the story and that would be that the banter is that good it sometimes feels like the film wants to be a horror comedy, but it also is way too dark to be a comedy.
Horror – The horror builds up nicely here, we have the nightmares, hints of the creature before the final act gives us all the answers which is great for horror. The creatures look also must go down as one of the most unique new looks in any horror this year.
Settings – The Swedish hill and woods make for the setting, the reality is it could be any woodland area but the camerawork makes each and every tree feel frightening at times. But this does all create the isolation needed for this style of horror film.
Special Effects – The effects in this movie are very impressive, the create does look like it could have been practical at times, but the nightmare sequences work well mixing the shop with the woodland area too. We do have moments of CGI though but they don’t look bad at all.
Final Thoughts – This is one of the surprises for me this year, I saw the trailer and only had bad thoughts about this movie, the film builds up to an excellent conclusion, brings us a new horror monster and most importantly entertains.
Overall: Horror fans will be enjoying this one.