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The Ritual

Written by Joe Barton, Adam Nevill

Directed by David Bruckner

2017 - Imaginarium Productions
Horror/Fantasy

Rated: TV-MA

Cast: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali. Robert James-Collier.

Eclectic Rating: stars

Movie Review:

With The Ritual Netflix has earned sufficient redemption after the dud I wasted time on earlier this month, namely The Open House. Wish I could charge for wasted use of my retinas, but it's my own fault I wasted them anyway.

Netflix didn't really produce The Ritual, they just bought it, but hey.

Anyway, we're good, The Ritual is one of the most different same-but-different horror flicks I've seen in awhile. I was pleasantly surprised. My wife was not. She had had a stressful week and the movie was just too much for her tattered nerves that evening. She probably would have been okay with a rewatch of something like Office Space.

But that tells you something about this movie. It sets up a sinister, high tension vibe early on. It's messed up from the get-go and we're subsequently drawn into a weird world of creepy ritualistic symbolism and otherworldly terror. But is it otherworldly?

Okay just a little wind up: [MODERATE SPOILER ALERT!] We start with a group of five pals hanging at a pub trying to decide on what kind of trip they want to take together. They could go to Amsterdam... nah. One suggests hiking across northern Sweden, the others scoff at the idea but ultimately it's the trip they settle on. On the way out of the pub two of the crew stop in an all-night convenience store and, during a hold-up, one of the two gets killed.

The one who survived carries the weight of his actions, or inactions through the rest of the film; during the hold up he hid out of sight and watched his friend get killed. Sorry I let that one out of the bag. Trust me, it doesn't ruin the film, go watch it. Still worth every minute.

Fast forward to the hiking trip which the remaining four friends agree to follow through with. Now we're launched into a zany creep fest that flickers between the here and now in a spooky Swedish forest (actually filmed in Romania, beautiful!) and that night in the store. He's troubled for sure, and tensions flare as they deal with mishap after mishap in the forest.

Strangeness ensues, and I won't give you any more details, but the ultimate payoff in this movie is the giant thing, I'll call it an entity, stalking them through the woods. Later in the film it is referred to as Jötunn, which according to Wikipedia, is "ambiguously defined, variously referred to by several other terms, including risi, thurs, and troll."

Troll! I think not. In the next paragraph the article states that the Jötunn "may be described as exceedingly beautiful or alarmingly grotesque." And let me tell you that is precisely what we have going on there in The Ritual. There could not possibly be another more fitting description. I think that's exactly what the filmmakers were trying to realize with the creature they reveal near the end of the movie.

This thing knocked my socks off. Absolutely awesome. Other reviewers have attempted to describe it but I won't do that here. Watch the movie and see for yourself. If you're a true horror fan like me you will be entranced by the disarmingly graceful yet creepy and grotesque qualities of this being.

The film closes with our protagonist, the guy who survived the robbery, confronting the Jötunn and escaping. He saved himself in quite a different way this time; not hiding behind some shelves in a convenience store.

This is one modern horror film I think I will add to my "watch again" collection.

(paid link)

Watch The Ritual on Netflix.

More about The Ritual at IMDb.com

Last Update: 10 May, 2019

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