The Ritual (2017)

the ritual poster 2017 movie netflix
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Cool creature, nice looking, strong cast

Under develops part of the cast, third act with cult isn't as good as the beginning despite the creature

Movie Info

Movie Name:   The Ritual

Studio:   Imaginarium Productions

Genre(s):   Horror

Release Date(s):   September 8, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)/October 13, 2017 (UK)/February 9, 2018 (US)

MPAA Rating:   Not Rated

the ritual friends rafe spall asher ali robert james collier sam troughton

Four Twats in a Forest

Luke (Rafe Spall), Phil (Arsher Ali), Hutch (Robert James-Collier), and Dom (Sam Troughton) travel to the mountains of Sweden to celebrate the life of their deceased mate Robert (Paul Reid).  When a twisted ankle leads them to take a shortcut through a forest, the four friends find themselves travelling into danger.  Something is in the woods.  Something is hunting them.  Something wants them dead.

Directed by David Bruckner, The Ritual is a horror thriller.  The movie is based on the 2011 Adam Nevill novel and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before premiering in the United Kingdom.  The movie received American distribution on Netflix and was released on February 9, 2018.

When I saw the trailer and poster for The Ritual, I thought that the movie was a remake of the film Rituals from 1977 which featured some city folks going into the woods, being hunted by something unknown, and being picked off one by one.  I soon learned that it was an adaptation of a book from 2011…but the similarities are definitely there.  The Ritual might take root in the movie Rituals, but it goes its own direction.

the ritual monster ending fire

Ok…the god is a killer antelope with human hands

The Ritual really kicks off with the classic horror cliché “let’s take a shortcut”.  The movie sets up like a monster movie until the hikers discover a man-made cabin and totems that indicate it is something more.  It begins to unfold at this point and takes a large turn when cultists get involved…I feel it kind of devolves at this point and loses some of its potential.

The story is largely built around Luke (Rafe Spall) who feels guilt about doing nothing while his friend Robert (Paul Reid) was killed by robbers in a liquor store.  He’s built as the obvious “survivor” as a result and you kind of know that Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, and the antagonist friend Sam Troughton are just fodder.  Both Arsher Ali and Robert James-Collier kind of get left in the dust in the movie and it primarily becomes the relationship between Luke and Dom.  Both actors do a decent job holding the film together despite the third act which is kind of sloppy.

the ritual monster ending

Bow to the extremely picky forest god with a complex!!!

The real catch to The Ritual is the bizarre monster.  Much of the movie has you questioning if you’ll even see anything or if this is just a mental monster in the heads of the characters.  The end of the film breaks that assumption by showing the monster somewhat clearly.  It is a weird woodland Norse god that has some resemblance to the creature of Princess Mononoke.  This is combined with the nice creepy setting of the woods (but some of the interior scenes aren’t as compelling).

The Ritual is relatively short and as a result not much of a commitment.  The movie isn’t built on cheap jumps but creeping terror which in general works for the movie.  I wish that the movie had just been about survival and folklore and had kept out the weird cult aspect (which really in the long run doesn’t make much sense due to the proximity of the cult to civilization and their rituals use fire displays that would clearly be seen by places like the “lodge” that the characters are trying to reach).  It is also one of those frustrating “how is he going to explain that” type movies that has you questioning the future for Luke’s character.  The Ritual is a monster movie that is worth checking out…I just wish they had gone with the title suggested in the movie:  Four Twats in a Forest.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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