Woodsy horror, The Ritual, is now available on Netflix. Don’t watch it while hiking or in the vicinity of nature. Seriously.
I’m not going to write a synopsis because I went into the experience with absolutely no knowledge of the premise and I turned out just fine. Some might be turned off if they read it and write it off as “not their thing” (which I’ve been guilty of) but The Ritual really does deserve a chance.
The acting is phenomenal, some of the strongest performances I’ve seen this year. Each member of the central group had an unmistakable personality and each one kept their personalities and their evolutions interesting. I can’t recall a single moment where I felt dialogue was weak or interactions felt forced. Everything included was necessary and essential to the storytelling. With that being said, there’s more than a handful of information I’d personally like filled in that could make this story even more engrossing. Hopefully the novel it’s based off of by Adam Nevill holds those answers.
Even if you don’t like scary movies, mute this and watch just for the scenery. It’s beautifully crafted and had a few looming shots of the miles upon miles of trees that just narrowed in the longer you looked. Pretty surreal stuff. The combination of that and the moderately eerie score make for an appropriate home for the antagonist of The Ritual.
I won’t give it away but I’m going to preach here- less is more. If in doubt, don’t reveal too much. It’s always better to keep that fear and uncertainty paired with an open ending than to give it all away and extinguish the ambiguity that fuels the viewer’s paranoia after they stop watching. The antagonist is no doubt interesting (aka fucking sa-weeeet) but I wasn’t scared of them when all was said and done. I had too much screen time with them.
Even though I watched this at 8am in my house, I was on edge when I paused for a laundry break. There’s no trees or freaky-deaky cabins in the basement but man did I hustle my ass up those stairs quicker than usual. Just thinking about what I saw bits and pieces of in the movie made me feel a little spooked. When the ending rolled around, that slowly fizzled out, unfortunately.
I think The Ritual was a genuinely eerie film that really got the essentials of horror down pat. It did its job of telling an engaging story that’s very human but takes place in a very unnatural world. It had the elements of sound, tease, and shock lined up correctly to uncoil at a great pace. It wasn’t a bore to watch- quite the opposite. It’ll keep you wide eyed if you let it.