Running Time: 1 Hour 34 Minutes
Director: David Bruckner
The Ritual is my kind of horror. A group of friends on a lads holiday get lost in the Scandinavian woods whilst hiking, and predictably things descend into Blair Witch territory very quickly, with terrifying results.
After a hold up in an off licence results in the death of Robert (Paul Reid), Luke (Rafe Spall) and their group of friends decide to go hiking in Scandinavia in tribute to him. Luke is racked with guilt for not saving Robert, and being the only witness to the murder, correctly suspects his friends place the blame on him.
The gang are not natural hikers, and decide after a very exaggerated leg injury to take a short cut through the woods. This is horror movie 101- don’t take a short cut through the woods!
Surprise surprise, there is something horrifying waiting for the friends. After walking for much longer than they thought they would be, they realise that they are completely lost. Strange visions start appearing, and creepy symbols are etched into the trees, multiplying as they sleep. The horror begins to reach a much more tangible level, as they find hand carved idols, and a bear ripped apart, hanging in the trees.
This is a very British horror. There is dry humour galore, and mixed with the genuinely horrifying events, this is a winning combination. The friends discover a big cabin buried in the woods in the midst of a storm, so have no choice but to wait out the weather inside. Phil, played by Arsher Ali, remarks ‘great.. this is definitely the house we’re getting murdered in’.
What does take place in the cabin is downright disturbing, so the fact that The Ritual can be so self deprecating whilst terrifying is a testament to the screenwriter, Joe Barton.
Whilst this film does what it sets out to do effortlessly, it can’t quite claim to be original. This is a horror film we have all seen before. There were times I even found myself wondering if this was just a British remake of The Blair Witch, as some of the plot points were so similar. However, what The Ritual lacks in originality in the beginning, it makes up for in its conclusion. We don’t do spoilers here at Film Hut, but the ending is very different to other ‘lost in the woods’ movies. (And you can probably make a good guess just based on the title).
The Ritual is probably too long for what it is, but if you’re looking for a genuinely scary horror, and are a fan of dry British humour, then this is the film for you. A great effort on all parts, leaving a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach- The Ritual is the perfect horror film to draw this Halloween season to a close.