The Ritual follows four friends as they embark on an ambitious hike in the Scandinavian wilderness in order to commemorate the tragic death of their friend. Throughout the journey they encounter rapidly increasing creepy situations that begin to tear them apart and bring back old demons.
The main protagonist, Luke is haunted by his friend’s death, of which he feels personally responsible. As nightmares follow him throughout the forest, the grief begins to manifest as a real entity that begins hunting the group. Luke struggles to come to grips with his emotional grief while simultaneously trying to get the group out of the Nordic wilderness alive.
This movie is kind of like if Wicker Man, The Village, and the Blair Witch Project were all blended together, and actually produced something weirdly original. This movie isn’t trying to be too many things at once, it’s actually pretty simple. Despite getting a little too complex at the end, with some aspects of the creepy village not really making sense. Still the majority of the film serves as a claustrophobic although cinematically engaging journey to survive an unseen danger.
I found this movie genuinely creepy. Some of the scares are really powerful, focusing on the fear of the unknown. There are lot of Blair Witch-esque flashlight shots, with the anxiety amping on what might be shown in that flashlight beam. That fear of what might come out at you is always more powerful to me than what usually is shown. It’s builds such a fantastically scary atmosphere, and for the most part delivers.
The final monster design, once it’s finally revealed is amazingly original. The sheer scope of it, as finally realized against a burning backdrop, is visually stunning and creative. It definitely doesn’t look like any existing movie monster, and to have a original and new monster design in a genre so bogged down with the rehashing of monster classics is refreshing. The best part of this for me was the creative decisions the filmmakers made to bring a new inclusion in the list of the most original and creative monster designs of modern horror.
However, the actual resolution, or my interpretation of it, seems a little problematic. The main story for Luke is that he is being followed by the culpability he feels for his friends murder. Still the resolution can I guess be interpreted in different ways, but for me, I don’t feel he really does that. I feel like his arc is completed with him fighting down his grief in order to get past it. Which I don’t think is the best approach there, but it really can be up to the audience to interpret what the ending really means to them.
Amy’s Recommendation: 8/10