Director: David Bruckner
Cast: Rafe Spall, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton, Arsher Ali
Running Time: 94 mins
Release Date: 13 October
Four men go hiking in the Swedish wilderness in memory of their late friend. After a slight injury and an increasing desire to get back to civilisation for a pint, the group decide to take an apparent shortcut through a forest. They soon realise their shortcut has been a horrible mistake.
The Ritual starts off with an incredibly tense scene involving the violent robbery of a small corner shop. Luke (Rafe Spall) hides behind shelves as his friend is brutally beaten to death. After this dramatic sequence, it cuts to six months later where the remainder of the gang are climbing hills in Sweden to commemorate their lost friend.
Right from the get go, The Ritual sets up a deeply uneasy atmosphere, where you know something is about to go horribly wrong, but you don’t know how. The four men cut through the woods after Dom (Sam Troughton) falls and badly twists his ankle. Very soon they realise their judgement may not have been so great after finding a series of grizzly remains on their travels. From there, the tension quickly ramps up as we see each of the men become more and more terrified of what is lurking in the trees.
What The Ritual really succeeds at is building tension, there are some fantastic sequences in the forest where you’re constantly looking in the background, trying to spot what is following them. It has just the right amount of gore and violence to properly scare without going over the top. All four performances are really strong, the four work well together and you believe they’re all old friends.
However, the film fails at leaving the terror to your imagination. There’s nothing quite as terrifying as the fear of the unknown, and that’s what works throughout the majority of the film. The Ritual gets over excited at the end and shows far too much. Although it is executed well, it does ruin any sort of mystery it previously had. There’s no clever twist or an unspeakable terror to ponder on, instead the film basically does what is expected of horrors.
Unfortunately, any mystery in the film is extinguished by the end, leaving you feeling rather spent instead of creeped out. However, The Ritual is a well-made film that does have its fair share of scares.