‘The Ritual’ (2017)
(UK • David Bruckner • 2017)
Based on the 2011 August Derleth Award-winning novel by British author Adam Nevill, ‘The Ritual’ is a neat 2017 horror movie lensed in the wilds of Lapland, Sweden.
The gist: four thirty-something university friends reunite for some adventure in the mountains, only to become waylaid in the obligatory spooky forest – complete with mysterious runes carved into the trees – where they come upon an abandoned cabin. Deciding to make haste for the exit after the occurrence of some seriously spooky shit, the troupe are targeted by an obscure and terrifying menacing entity, leading them to become ever further lost in the woods…
There’s obvious yet welcome echoes of films including ‘Black Death’, ‘The Blair Witch Project’, ‘The Shrine’, ‘The Village’ and (the wonderful) ‘The Witch’ here, hence I enjoyed ‘The Ritual’ as a part of this continuum. This commendable production covers the required bases well, providing a few shocks and a twist or two along the way. Although what CGI there is here is noticeable, unlike most modern productions, it is all well-used, effective and story-driven.
Starring Rafe ‘Son-of-Timothy’ Spall, Sam ‘Grandson-of-Patrick’ Troughton and British TV’s Robert James-Collier, the film was written and directed by American David Bruckner (‘The Signal’, ‘Southbound and ‘V/H/S’) and counts Andy ‘Gollum’ Serkis among its executive producers.
Notwithstanding my praise above, there are a few aspects that – to my mind – are lacking: for example, the over-reliance on ‘fuck’ as a dialogue intensifier and the main protagonist’s slightly heavy-handed redemption arc. However, nitpicking besides, ‘The Ritual’ does make an enjoyable addition to the rather slim rural-hex-survival-horror sub-genre and I heartily recommend it if you’re at all inclined to same!