After a tragic incident which sees one individual of a group of friends killed in an armed robbery the remaining members choose to pay their respects by acting on his suggestion to go hiking in Sweden for their next lads holiday. The group soon realise that they aren’t the only beings within these Swedish mountains and a desperate fight for survival ensues. ‘The Ritual’ is based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Adam Nevill, with the cast being lead by Rafe Spall. Could this horror live up to it’s infamous Friday the 13th release date though?
Whilst not what’s necessarily top of horror junkies wish list, the setting for the film is often beautifully captured thanks to the impressive cinematography on show. The vast landscapes, sun splitting through the trees and some more unnerving scenes are consistently presented with quality and create a visually appealing ascetic. Furthermore, often these shots help to showcase the scale of the terrifying predicament that the characters find themselves in. This group of friends is constructed very effectively, conveying a genuine camaraderie and chemistry. All of the performances are good with Spall acting as a strong focal point bringing all of the individuals together. This results in a pleasing amount of comedy in the initial stages of the film and even somewhat in the second act too. In addition to this there is a strong emotional undertone to much of the film considering the narrative context. I thought this was executed well and in a believable fashion. The same can be said for the character reactions when presented with different challenges or dangers which was refreshing for the genre to say the least.
The overall story for the film is well written. The context for the trip is good, allowing the story to have meaning and stakes even before the main horror plot begins. It has to be said that the film isn’t all that scary but certain scenes are definitely difficult to watch. The horror is more unnerving than terrifying and the narrative does have good suspense present throughout the run time. So while ‘The Ritual’ is low on scares to a certain degree it never becomes boring and it constantly surprises with countless ‘wtf’ moments included. It will be compared to the ‘Blair Witch’ films and for sure there are unmistakable similarities however, ‘The Ritual’ makes sure that it can’t simply be labelled a copycat through several narrative elements, which for some viewers their enjoyment may hinge on.
‘The Ritual’ succeeds in creating a memorable horror experience through it’s mental narrative yet grounded characters. The performances are key in keeping audiences on board with the story and the likeability of the group goes a long way. Although the film isn’t truly terrifying it presents many unsettling moments and manages to be original within a very over-crowded genre and more specific horror setting. If you’re looking for a unique horror experience this Halloween, get your mates together and go watch this in the cinema – it could be likely to be the best of this genre’s October releases.
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 7.5/10
Question: What is your favourite Rafe Spall film performance?
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