“Why dont you go give yourself a prostate exam and leave me alone”Review by Lewis Goodall
Sweden must be having a pretty rough time with tourists at the moment considering the horror films coming out about it. Weve had Midsommar which really didnt help and we also have this, The Ritual. Actually I suppose you’d probably be good if you just avoid the forests. Forests have bad juju behind them anyway so avoid them in any country to be honest. Forests are just boring and scary, no wonder people in Japan commit suicide inside them. 1 out of 10. Now that’s my reviews for forests, let’s move onto the real review.
The Ritual is a British film set in Sweden where four friends go on a hiking trip to commemorate the lose of their friend who wanted to do the trip. When one of the friends busts his ankle in a hole in the ground, the friends decide to take a shortcut through a forest in order to make it to a lodge they booked to stay at, quicker. The moment they enter the forest, they unknowingly enter a world beyond their control as distant noises and cult symbols start appearing the further they delve into the belly of the beast.
I feel like the British nail horror films. Theres just something about british films In general where they just naturally feel grittier and more realistic so having that recipe applied to horror then it adds waaaaaaaay more to the horror when it doesn’t seem as optimistic as American horror films. American horror just seems too bouncy if that makes sense? it doesn’t does it. Americans having an optimistic outlook on everything, they try and make the people in the films, heroes when in reality these people would make cacas in their pants. The non-heroes of The Ritual are Luke (Rafe Spall), Phil (Asher Ali), Hutch ( Robert James-Collier) and Dom (Sam Troughton). These four make an awful Duke of Edinburgh crew as they’re constantly lost.
We meet these four along with another friend, Robert (Paul Reid). When they’re all planning a lads lads lads holiday at the pub, they leave, Robert and Luke go into an off license to get a specific brand of alcohol. Whilst in the shop they realise that the place is being robbed by two nasty youths. Luke hides behind a cabinet whilst Robert is confronted by the two youths, stealing his wallet and pride. When Robert doesn’t give up his wedding ring, one youth knives the fool in the face whilst Luke just sits there and holds his bottle of vodka. We then fast forward 6 months to the remaining four friends as the embark on their journey to honour Robert. The memory of Robert getting his face sliced like a lump of ham at a butcher, plagues Luke thoughts throughout the journey and keeps reappearing as the four travel into the forest. The deeper the four guys travel the more this memory keeps coming back to haunt him.
So as the guys are travelling they stumble across a rundown shed like something out of a Grimm tale. While exploring the house they discover a life sized mannequin made of hay and antlers as an offering to some God out there. They camp the night considering this hell idol is lurking in the loft. During the night they all have nightmares that effect them in different ways but we get a look at Luke’s as he is the main character. His nightmare consists of a recreation of the knife incident involving Robert’s face. This happens alot and everytime this happens, the shop itself is recreated there in the forest and it’s very nicely placed within the trees. Its the shop but with dirt floor and it’s just really great set design with haunting transitions to accurately show how this memory is haunting Luke.
From this sleep in the 1 star air bnb cabin, the four are then pushed to the limits as they try to avoid an entity that seems to be following their every move and likes to growl to make their self known amongst our four friends. What this film does great for the first three quarters of the story is what I would like to call the ‘Blair witch’ effect. Blair witch is possibly my favourite horror film ever because it’s a film that plays with your mind. Nothing really happens but it’s that fear of the unknown that makes it so terrifying. The moment that the entity watching you or chasing you or sniffing you is known, then that element is lost. Fear derives from the unknown, hence why a fear of the dark is so common, cause you dont know what creeps are lurking within. My problem with horror films is that you see everything and everything is known so it’s not scary anymore. It’s like having a ‘fear of the dark’ simulator in a room but the lights on. The Ritual, has the unknown element done to a T for most of the film and it genuinely had me nervous, so nervous that a zipper made me jump. It was a great feeling having a twinge of actual fear when watching a horror film. My problem lies with the end as in the end the entity makes itself known and it just becomes an odd film at the end. The whole feeling of fear was lost when it hit the climax and it was a shame because the beginning was so promising. Less is more, blair witch effect, less is more. This film is like it took the blair witch project and extended it to show what was haunting them which ruins the unknown element. I could keep going I just hope I wasnt rambling. Eho am I kidding, I always ramble.
That’s the overall feeling I had for the while film in terms of the fear aspect. All other aspects were really clean and natural. Going back to the whole British thing, the script just felt very natural and they made realistic decisions which is for some reason rare in horror films, finally a horror film where they don’t follow the footsteps. Script good, acting is like a frayed knot, tight in some areas but also felt unravelled at points. The four of the each had their moments where I couldnt tell whether they were trying or not but it was something that dissolved as the film went on, it’s like they were learning how to act throughout the journey of the film so it was something that become unnoticeable at the end.
Overall, This film has a really intense start that seems to mellow out towards the end as the mystery aspect is lost. But with some really creative sequences and also music, I haven’t talked about the music yet, the music really did add a lot to the tension in a scene to make me scared of a zipper so kudos to the composer. Back to the point, finally a horror film that’s mostly amazing, shame about the anticlimactic ending so it did sour the aftertaste but it’s a fun watch if you’re needing a scare. It’s like a filet of chicken thats slightly raw, its mostly cooked, it’s slightly pink in the middle but you eat around it, it’s not bad enough to send back but you definitely wouldnt want to eat the whole thing.