In any terrifying situation, there are two kinds of people. Either you fight the thing that is causing the problem or you’re someone that takes flight. Running as far away from the problem. Most of us have never been in a situation where our lives are in danger of someone with a gun or even a wild animal like a bear. But I think most of us often speak more highly on how we would act in most of those situations. For instance, I own a few rifles in my home and actually go to the range a couple times for practice. I do this in case I ever have to defend my family or myself. Ideally I would take charge of a moment if someone broke into my house. I would get my gun and completely erase this persons existence from the planet. But to be honest, it hasn’t happened yet so there is a place in my mind that still wonders if I really would do… whats expected of me. Could I really confront someone and throw chance up into the wind so easily? Could I be a hero and shoot another person? I don’t know. I’d like to think I could defend and protect my family but then again. This is a guy talking about something he’s never had happen and thankfully so.
What would you do if you were caught in a horrific situation? Would you feel regretful with yourself if you took flight?
The Ritual is a 2017 British folk/horror film directed by David Bruckner who you might be vaguely familiar with his short story Amateur Night in the 2012 found footage anthology film called V/H/S. The movie stars Rafe Spall as Luke, Arsher Ali as Phil, Robert James-Collier as Hutch, Sam Troughton as Dom and Paul Reid as Robert. The movie made it’s appearance in film festivals but was made popular through Netflix.
After the death of a close college friend, four best friends embark on an outdoor excursion through the Scandinavian wilderness. While camping in the vast woods, they come across a terror. Hunting them down one by one, the group fight for their lives against what seems to be an ancient evil.
Normally I prefer to give modern films a couple years to breath and I haven’t been all to keen on Netflix horror films. But The Ritual is one of the few movies on that streaming service that I find to be a great movie and a lone spectacle of something that is actually good on that Netflix.
While the idea of a monster hunting down a group of friends is nothing new, The Ritual may be a film that takes a basic formula and gives it a nice shot of steroid. The film is shot in a beautiful setting brought on by these Scandinavian woods. Just like underwater films, outdoor woods films tend to draw me in. Wilderness films are partially self bringers of tone. Something about deep dark woods always seems disturbing and in itself creates a certain claustrophobic mood in what is actually very vast. It is ironic how being stuck in the woods can seem like there is no place to go when in actuality the directions can be endless. The entire idea of “getting out” is the basic survival theme. Mix this in with an odd folklore monster gutting our group of friends like they were catfish on a hook and you have yourself an ideal atmospheric horror movie.
What might be the drive through the entire film is obviously the bond with our four friends found in Luke, Phil, Hutch, Dom and Hutch. I can’t help but be reminded of Neil Marshall’s 2005 film called The Descent and laughingly compare the two movies. The Descent is about a group of women that grudge the shit out of each other. They go into a cave where they’re hunted and killed by humanoid bat creatures. But while all this terror is going on, we’re reminded about why there is an obvious schism within the circle. One of the women had an affair with another’s man and the entire group is aware of it. But instead of being normal thinking people, they all just tolerate it without saying anything.
The Ritual has the same dynamic in that Luke was witness to their friend Roberts death. He also failed to act heroically. So a few of his friends are bitter towards him. Unlike The Descent, the guys in The Ritual have their moment of argument but then don’t let it get in their way. This entire situation actually makes Luke the main character and ultimately gives us an actual plot. The story is possibly less about a monster and more about the ability for our character Luke to find his strength and survive. You can’t help but feel his struggle throughout the film as the weaker of the group dealing with his own demons. Luke is kind of a coward but this gives us a perfect man vs nature mixed with man vs himself story. In all situations that are considered terrifying, we do nothing but two things. Fight or flight. Luke and his friends survival is entirely based upon this idea. While Luke may not be the most heroic of the four, his obvious flight mentality is the thing that brings him through.
So go ahead and watch The Ritual. It’s a slow burn movie that picks up speed at the right moment. The way the characters and their relationship is established is spot on and when the terror does begin, it goes from crazy to absolutely bonkers in no time. I love the monster in this film and admire how the director holds off on giving us an absolute clear picture of what it is. The film has a certain sense of mystery that never gets answered, which is something I love. I hate how modern films have to explain everything. We can’t just have a monster in the woods that has a cult of followers. I wouldn’t be surprised if Netflix ruins this good movie by making a sequel, or even worse; a prequel! Anyways, just watch the movie and enjoy day twenty seven of Horror Movie Marathon 2019.