The Ritual (2017) – movie review

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Movie review by Shiroma Silva

Starring: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton
Director: David Bruckner
Running Time: 94 mins

If you like horror movies this story about a group of old college friends alone in a forest only goes a little bit of the way.

What starts off as an ordinary lads’ story of five men negotiating an early midlife crisis and trying to recreate the laughs they once had in their youth, turns into a violent murder when two of them inadvertently get caught up in an armed robbery while shopping for booze. When one of them refuses to give up his wedding ring to the assailant he is battered to death while his mate watches on, in fear of his own life.

The RitualIn memory of their dead friend the remaining four decide to do what he would have wanted, in the form of a three day hike in the Swedish mountains. Their escapade gets off to a bad start when one of them injures his leg, causing the party to divert to a short cut through the woods.

It’s then that the troubles begin, haunted at night by what they think are semi human forms, giant tree monsters and flashbacks to the night of the off licence murder. As they get drawn deeper into the forest their mishaps escalate with inexplicable sightings amongst the vegetation which transform into figures of horror as the moon rises.

Who, if anyone will come out of the woods alive is the question posed by the film, as they face a mixture of present day nightmares, mythological creatures and communities of forest people who worship a sacrificial deity in exchange for long lives.

Although it’s a brave attempt to intertwine the recent past with ancient sacrificial rituals it doesn’t quite hang together; with the plot and dialogue pretty flat, it felt like both the director and the actors were working hard to make it seem scary. The redeeming factors were the visuals – the lighting of the night horror scenes were genuinely spooky and the magnificent views of the landscape, together with the awe inspiring aerials of the forest in which humans are dwarfed by nature, helped in part to make up for a film that otherwise felt rather long.

2 out of 6 stars

Released on 13th October by eOne