Film Review: The Ritual (2017)

2017 in Cinema:

The Ritual, 2017

Directed by: David Bruckner

Starring: Rafe Spall, Robert James-Collier, Arsher Ali, Sam Troughton

 

The Ritual is a British horror film about a group of lads who go hiking in Sweden in memory of a friend who is murdered at the start of the film (his desire was camping whereas everyone else wanted a lads’ holiday). Plot Convenience forced Dom (Sam Troughton) to hurt his knee forcing the other three to reconsider the length of their journey and they decide to take a shortcut through the woods.

While it is the latest in a long, long line of films set in the woods, this film still manages to add a uniqueness and a string of comedy to it to keep it fresh and interesting. During a rainy night they find a cabin and spend the night sleeping in there but upstairs is a statue without a head which freaks them out. That night they all have dreams and Phil (Arsher Ali) wakes up naked and praying to the statue. They also spot an animal which had been gutted and placed high on a tree, but what I loved about this film was how it kept the creature away from our eye, and the specific forest they filmed in was perfect. It had lots of small trees close together and it allows the creature to be disguised (I was constantly on the edge of my seat awaiting the creature as it was shown to have human hands and was large enough to pick up things and stick them in a tree and was able to force nightmares into people’s heads). And it did not disappoint.

One thing brilliant about this film was the dynamic between the group: they’re in the woods because their murdered friend wanted it, and we see the murder as Luke (Rafe Spall) refused to help his friend, and throughout their journey there’s this obvious tension between Luke and Dom and we soon find out it’s because Dom didn’t approve of Luke’s cowardice. It plays brilliantly throughout as we have a lot of nightmare flashbacks caused by the creature combining the woods and the store where the friend was murdered brilliantly, as well as seeing Dom acting scared in a similar moment and it plays throughout the film brilliantly.

As with all horrors their group gets killed off, but it’s the reveal at the end that makes the film really good. It’s a clever monster with an interesting twist that, thankfully, wasn’t spoiled by the trailers (even if every moment of comedy was spoiled). There’s a nice dynamic between the group and, unusually, they don’t fit into the traditional tropes of athlete, idiot, comedy relief, etc. as they all seem like genuine people with a dark shadow hanging over a close friendship.

 

Plot: * * * *

Acting: * * *

Writing: * * * *

Presentation: * * * *

Overall Rating: * * * ¾

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