ALL HAIL NETFLIX! Now that we have that out of the way let’s talk about The Ritual, a Netflix original movie that was released on the streaming platform in February of 2018. I can’t believe that movies of this caliber, that is to say, theatrical release worthy movies, are created in the quiet depths of a streaming platform. I didn’t hear much about the production of this movie. Instead, it just showed up on my Netflix suggestion bar, and I watched it. There must be a better way to hype these things, right? Anyway, The Ritual is a well-done horror movie that capitalizes on the natural spookiness of camping and the woods.
I don’t know if you are a camper, but I am. For years I worked a job that had me camping for a good portion of the year as I maintained trails in a National Forest. I got quite used to camping in the backcountry, but the thought never left some primordial part of my brain, “What if something was out there?” The Ritual is very good at capitalizing on this fear of the dark, quiet, forest primeval. It’s the best thing that this movie has going for it – it’s also what makes me a little angry at The Ritual. I enjoy camping – I don’t want potential campers to be too scared to miss the greatness of the outdoors.
Before I launch into the review, I want to use The Ritual as an example of a trend I’ve come to expect in horror movies – predictable titling. Horror movie titles have devolved a bit from something interesting like Friday The 13th, or A Nightmare on Elm Street to something extremely cookie-cutter-ish:
Do you see a through-line here? Just something that has been niggling at me. Bring back the interesting titles. The one-word titles and the “The” titles are effective but played out.
Back to The Ritual review!
Quick Summary of The Ritual
The Ritual starts off with some old college friends who are having a night out on the town in England (their home). As they leave the bar, two of the five head into a liquor store to grab something to make night-caps with and find themselves in the midst of a robbery. Our protagonist, Luke (Rafe Spall) hides while his friend is beaten brutally and killed for not producing his wedding ring.
Fast forward a year. The four remaining friends, Luke, Phil (Arsher Ali), Hutch (Robert James-Collier), and Dom (Sam Troughton) decide to go on the hike that their dead pal would have wanted to go on with them – the Kings Trail in Sweden. As they head down the trail, Dom sprains his leg in a frighteningly realistic portrayal of the kind of dumb movement it takes to sprain your leg.
The group argues and squabbles until they decide that going off-trail and cutting through the forest would be faster than, you know, being smart and staying on the trail.
Once they enter the forest, things break down. It’s a scary forest. It’s got plenty of shots over overly-dense trees with something moving ever so slightly in the distance. It’s got abandoned cabins and all sorts of effective tropes.
Throughout The Ritual, Luke is plagued by vivid waking dreams where he is forced to relive the fearful night where his friend was killed, and he stood by doing nothing.
My Rating for The Ritual
This is on the low side of the seven spectra. It is a serviceable horror movie and has a lot going for it regarding production and acting. The script and character development are a bit clunky at times. The four friends argue so much that it prevents any real introspection or interesting character developments from taking place. However, I give The Ritual some leeway in this script and character development department because the panic that would be present in the circumstances that it places these four guys in could easily produce these, somewhat bothersome yelling matches.
Spoilers for The Ritual
This movie will totally cut it for a fun night of terror. If you are looking to sit down and have something suck you in, tumble you around and spit you out, this is it. In the long-run, this isn’t a game changer. I do expect it to age well and be added to the list of perfectly acceptable and effective horror movies.
If you prefer the monster to stay hidden, as I do, you will be disappointed by The Ritual. It has a big, scary, moose monster with a roast turkey for a head. When the remaining two guys stumble upon a village within the forest, they learn that the village is held captive by the moose monster, which is described to them as being a god. Everyone who lives in the village bears the mark of this beast and is expected to worship this moose monster.
The vibe I got was that this was a metaphor for fear. The monster chose people who had very intense fear and regret to worship him. The metaphor being, fear can rule your life. Eventually Luke faces his fears, stands up to the monster and finds his way out of the woods.
Is The Ritual Worth Seeing?
Yep, you should watch it. Solid horror movie that leaves you with a little bit of something extra to think about at the end. How does fear affect your day-to-day life? Does fear control you, make you worship it? It’s part of what I like about horror movies, I get to stand up to something scary and see how I fare against it.
You might not want to camp after this.
What Do You Think? Leave A Comment Below
How do you think The Ritual Stacks up? Leave a comment below and let us know!