“The Ritual” is the (first) Netflix original film I enjoyed.

If you’re a horror fan, I’m sure you’ve seen (or at least heard of) The Ritual on Netflix. It’s a 2018 film about a group of old college friends who go on a trip in the woods, and encounter a menacing presence.

Before I get into it, I want to say that I was very surprised about this watch. Like I try to do with most movies, I went into this completely blind. I didn’t know anything about it. I left with a feeling of relief, in that Netflix can actually make descent originals films! That being said, you have to make sure you hire the right people for the job. Director David Bruckner (V/H/S, The Signal) was the absolute right person for this. Without giving anything away, I like to say this is a mix between The Blair Witch Project, King Kong and Trollhunter.

Overall, I really enjoyed the cast, except for [maybe] a couple of the guys, who I felt could’ve been written better. From the ones I did like, they were very believable, and were a pleasure to see on screen. It stars Rafe Spall (The Big Short), Arsher Ali (Line of Duty), Robert James Collier (Downtown Abbey) and Sam Troughton (Alien V. Predator). Something that was a complete surprise, and a great one, was that Andy Serkis worked as a producer on this. Most of you may know him by playing Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’ve always enjoyed Serkis as an actor, it’s so cool to see him dab into the producing world. After this, I can’t wait to see what else he comes out with.

It’s hard to talk about this film without giving anything away. Especially if I’m recommending you to go in blind, and try not to know anything about this film. So I feel I have to jump to the spoiler section. You’ve been warned!

 

 

 

 

SPOILERS

 

 

 

 

About a third into this film, I still didn’t have much context on what was going on; although I was intrigued. I was immediately pulled in. I was of course interested from the start, but what really brought me in, was when Luke’s friend got shot. When they entered that convenient store, who ever would’ve thought, THIS is how they were going to end the scene. It was so powerful, stunning and definitely left me speechless.

Fast forward to when the guys are on their way home from they hike. This is the part that made me think of the Blair Witch. After staying in a mysterious cabin because of a storm, each guy wakes up in a different scenario. One of them woke up praying [naked] to a wicker man. These bizarre things start to happen to them, and we’re still not given much context. But you can tell that something big is about to happen.

I could go on and on about what I liked about this movie. I could also go on and on about how different it is than other horror films. But to shorten things up a bit, I’ll list some of the things that I thought were scary, and done extremely well.

  • Hutch’s death: Nothing is scene, just heard. We’re with Luke the whole time, getting his perspective. When we exit the tent with him, you hear horrendous screaming, and disturbing noises. This was especially scary seeing how it was at night. This leads to the group finding Hutch dead, pinned against a tree with his insides torn out.
  • The use of the monster: Before we even find out what’s behind these terrifying acts, we get very subtle clues on what’s stalking these men. There’s one particular shot that kept me thinking. The guys are walking through the woods from right to left. The camera slowly dolly’s in on a tree that’s center frame. There’s suspenseful music playing in the background. At the very end of the shot, we see a very small part of the creature lurking behind them. That’s just one example, but it was clever on how they used the monster.
  • The tribe: This part, to some people threw them off. This is where they started to be less interested in the movie. Not for me. This is where the King Kong aspect comes in. There’s a cannibalistic tribe, in which sacrifices people to this monster/god so they can stay alive. This part’s intriguing to me because there are real tribes such as this. You never know where they live until they find you. I like it, because it seems like you could actually run unto these people in real life.
  • The monster itself: I’m a sucker for monster movies. This is a good one. Earlier I mentioned that this film reminded me of Trollhunter, and the monster is why. It’s a mythological creature that’s based in Sweden. The design was creepy, and I’ve never seen anything like it before. I do with they didn’t reveal the whole thing at the end, but I can get passed that. The creepiest thing about it, was the human hands it possessed.

 

I hope after reading this, you go and watch The Ritual. It’s definitely a must-see for all genre lovers. A refreshing take on an old legend.

 

RATING: 8.5/10

 

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