Simple Review: Worth the hike
Since we are now officially in October, I am going to write a lot about horror movies, so be prepared! As this is the case, I am grateful for Netflix as it is a cornucopia of horror movies, some good others terrible but the choices are abundant. I have been meaning to watch The Ritual for some time now but my A.D.D and the endless options on Netflix usually means I spend more time looking at movie titles than actually watching them. For you my reliable reader, I downed a hand full of Ritalin and locked myself into all The Ritual had to offer. So lace up those hiking boots, throw on that heavy backpack and follow me into deep, dark woods searching for the review of this flick!
When one decides to watch a Netflix original movie one is trying to play the odds. Most of the time the odds are not in your favor, but every great once and a while you hit on a good film. Luckily for me, The Ritual came up a winner. If you have not heard of it, The Ritual tells the tale of four friends who take a hiking trip through the forests in Sweden to honor their friend who passed away in a tragedy early in the film. As they go further into the woods, they encounter a savage, mythical creature that terrorizes them as they try to escape the never-ending forest. Directed by David Bruckner, and based on a novel by Adam Nevill, that I never read ( hey at least I am honest about it), this turned out to be a surprisingly good movie. It’s been so long since I have written that statement it looks a bit odd to me! Be prepared, this review will have more positives than negatives and as crazy as the world is right now that is a good thing!
The heart of the movie is the four grieving friends, and the actors handle both the moments of grief and terror very well. Rafe Spall is the only face I recognized as he was just in the last Jurrasic World film, as well as Prometheus and he does a fine job as the most tormented of the group of friends. Without giving too much away, his character causes the most tension among the friends for his inability to act and save their now deceased friend. The tension isn’t always at the forefront among them, and the writers do an excellent job establishing these men as lifelong friends. When the tension does rear its ugly head it is much more impactful as we know these men do care deeply for each other. Plus these guys all have English accents, and any acting that is done with an English accent just sounds better, and that’s coming from an obnoxious American.
There are some genuine scares and flat out creepy moments in The Ritual, and for you non-horror fans out there, the gore is limited and most of the violence is off screen making you use your imagination, which I find scarier! The use of psychological horror adds to the scares as well as the overall tension of the film. I love how Bruckner mixes the forest with the convenience store from the beginning as the creature plays with the lead characters mind driving him deeper into guilt. Speaking of Bruckner, he has shot a beautiful movie using the gorgeous forests of Sweden to his full advantage. The isolation compounds the terror, and for the love of all that is holy, stay away from abandoned cabins in the woods! And that cabin has one of the creepiest rooms I have seen in a horror movie in a long time. I tip my hat to you filmmakers.
For all the positives this film delivers, there are some things that keep it from being truly great. The plot is a bit familiar. We have seen people lost in the woods stumbling upon supernatural forces before, and while the cabin scenes were creepy, it WAS another cabin in the woods. The final act is a little up and down for me, as our heroes stumble into a village of demon worshippers. It is well acted but again very familiar territory. The part of the village that did irritate me was all of the villagers speak a foreign language the men do not understand except one villager who speaks English to give us exposition. The pulls you out of the moment, when did she take the time to listen to Rosetta Stone for English? I dare say she didn’t. My only other complaint is about the creature. I found the creature design to be unique and interesting, but we barely get to see it in detail. Seems like a waste of something that could cause nightmares for many viewers out there. ( Not me obviously)
To bring this rambling walk through the woods to an end, I would definitely recommend The Ritual to anyone looking for a solid horror/thriller on Netflix. As I stated earlier, the gore and violence are limited so even those who do not like that sort of thing (weirdos) will have a good time with this movie. Thank you, Netflix for finally giving me a good movie to review because I was starting to think it would never happen and I would be labeled a bitter, bitter man. ( I am but that is beside the point) Have fun with this one and if you agree, disagree or just want to leave a random comment feel free. If you would like and recommend my blog to others I would be in your debt!
As always, thanks for your time.
The Movie Psycho