Today I had the house and a few hours to myself and had planned to finally watch Gerald's Game. Then, getting Netflix up, I saw their spotlight film was The Ritual. It sounded neat and I could get a review of it out on release date, so I decided to go with it over Gerald's Game. Less than an hour into the film I realized I made a mistake. The Ritual is one of the worst Netflix exclusive horror films made.
It starts simple enough, five reunited college buddies are planning a trip. Hiking in Sweden is eventually chosen as where to go. Not long after the decision a tragedy will befall one of them and haunt another. Eventually they do go to Sweden and hike the mountains and trails. One of them injures their ankle and it's decided to go back to the resort through a shortcut in the woods. That's when weird things start to happen and the movie goes downhill.
Now they've gone from the mountains to the forest in what becomes a very Blair Witch Project type scenario. They find animal carcasses, strange rune symbols carved in trees, and stay in a old rundown house to avoid the rain. They hear sounds in the night and have nightmares and wake up with unexplained wounds. These familiar, unoriginal, beats start about 35 to 40 minutes into the film and by 50 minutes I was ready to call it quits. I only kept watching to see if the witch or some sort of creature would appear.
There's some conflict between the friends, they argue and fight. They hike some more and the movie really drags for a very long time. Eventually they are attacked by what's lurking in the woods, but even that isn't all that exciting or suspenseful. I will say that the third act finally does break free of this copycat trend, although it's done in a left field sorta way that doesn't explain much about the situation. Finishing up with the plot, the final confrontation between the main character and the antagonist is pretty lame.
The few positives I'll give the film go to the acting and camerawork. The film looks really good especially when they are in the mountains. I wish the film had taken place there instead of the forest. There's nothing wrong with how the forest looks, it's just that there's been plenty of these kinds of movies set there. The acting and dialogue is pretty good, though none of the characters really stand out.
The negatives go to the bland, unoriginal narrative. We've seen this type of film plenty times: friends go into woods, strange, supernatural stuff starts to happen, they fight and argue, they reconcile, they get picked off one by one. That's the majority of this movie. It's so frustrating and boring to sit through. By the time that finally changes, your patience with the movie has run out. The third act and the actual ritual needed more time put into it. The main antagonist, in backstory and appearance, underwhelms.
This is a awful straight to DVD, Syfy Channel type movie that Netflix should feel embarrassed about. Avoid this one at all costs.
- ABOUT THE AUTHOR -
El Barto acquired a love of horror, film, and pro wrestling from a very young age that has only continued to grow to this day. He enjoys learning about the background and production of movies, reading, collecting, and discussing just about any form of entertainment.