I saw the trailer for The Ritual last year and I’ve wanted to watch it ever since. I tried to go to the cinema but it had awkward times like 10pm on a week day, that might not sound too bad but when I have to get up at 5am for work the following day it was never going to happen. This film arrived on Netflix last Friday but just like the UK fuck it’s own football fans by banning 3 o’clock kick offs being shown on TV, Netflix released this on every Netflix apart from the UK, typical. Still I managed to get a copy and sat down one night to see if it lived up to the high praise it’s been getting.
Director – David Bruckner
Writers – Adam Nevill(novel)and Joe Barton
Stars – Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton and Paul Reid
Run Time – 94 minutes
Tagline – They Should Have Gone To Vegas
Luke, Phil, Hutch, Dom and Robert are a group of college friends but now they’ve all grown up and have lives of their own. They meet up down the pub to arrange a lads holiday, over a few pints they decide they’re too old for Ibiza, Amsterdam is too touristy and they don’t want to get off their tits any more. Robert suggests hiking in Scandinavia, seems like a decent plan.
Following the pub the friends pass a booze shop, Luke decides he wants a bottle of something to carry on the boozy good feeling. He persuades Robert to come into the shop with him, whilst complaining about how they’ve aged and their mates don’t want to do anything any more, they notice the shop worker covered in blood. Out of the storeroom come two druggies probably robbing the store to get their next fix.
The thugs spot Robert but Luke hides, they try to steal from him and he willingly hands over everything he has but draws the line at giving them his wedding ring. The thugs strike and kill Robert as Luke cowers in the corner. Fast forward a few months and the lads emerge from tents, they’ve decided to set out on the hiking holiday that Robert wanted. They make a little shrine to their friend and then head off on a long long walk, these countries lack the pubs that you find near hiking trails in the UK but still they try to enjoy themselves.
Whilst walking Dom injures his leg and in turn struggles to walk, the group look at the map and decide that they can chop their journey in half if instead of sticking to the paths, they venture through the forest. I’m sure we’ve seen enough horror movies to know that this never ever ends up being a good decision.
The rain begins to pour down and the group stumble on a small log cabin, desperate, wet and cold they kick the door in on the seemingly abandoned cabin. Inside is some creepy witchcraft statues, the place has a really weird vibe, still the group settle down for the night despite Luke hearing noises in the forest. The next day all of them have experienced either sleep walking or some form of terrible nightmare, is it all in their heads or is something making this happen?
They push on through the forest and things get weirder and weirder, strange symbols mark all the trees and something is following them, something is hunting them and this something is not human. They are being stalked and they need to get away from the forest as quickly as they can. This is where the movie hits it’s peak with several tense and creepy scenes building up to the unexpected and the eventual reveal of what has been stalking them.
- Rafe Spall is fantastic as Luke, he plays the part very convincingly.
- I like the backstory of why they end up going hiking, it’s simple and effective also serving it’s purpose of creating tension within the group.
- The noises and quick shadowy glimpses of the monster stalking them.
- The nightmare visions that Luke see’s all through the film mostly repeating the death of his friend.
- Effects and make up are both spot on, there’s not a single part of the film that made me think the monster was anything other than real.
- This isn’t really a good point like the others but I was engrossed in this movie, sometimes I feel my mind wondering during a movie but this one kept me gripped from start to finish.
- Very good ending to the story.
- I liked Luke and also the “leader” of the group in Hutch but I found the other two characters incredibly dull. I felt they all lacked any backstory other than just being a group of old friends.
- Whilst I understand the reason why I wasn’t a fan of the jump from the incident that triggers everything and their arrival in Scandinavia.
- The monster, now personally I loved the unique and creepy look but and this will sound weird when the monster is on all fours I wasn’t a fan but soon as it stood up and grabbed people or went face to face with them it looked awesome. Hopefully people will understand what I mean when they’ve watched it.
This was a really great film that surpassed the expectations I had of it, I highly recommend people watch this. Over the years there’s been some really enjoyable British horror and it’s nice to see one that doesn’t rely on comedy and instead delivers a creepy story.
Overall Rating – 8.5/10