March 4, 2018

Netflix Review: The Ritual (2018)

"Netflix hits gold with its latest Horror acquisition."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5638642/?ref_=nv_sr_1
Sure, The Ritual feels more than a little bit like a British spin on The Blair Witch, what with the weird symbols and figures all over the place, but that would hardly be a fair comparison. Yes, it's set in the woods, and sure there's an entity of some sort stalking a group of nature lovers to their deaths, but it's truly got its own thing going on.

Director David Bruckner -who gave us one of the better Horror Anthologies in recent years, Southbound (review HERE)-  has hit a new high with this one, which we think is his best film to date.

*Mild monster spoilers ensue below.
After their mate Rob is murdered in a tragic chip shop robbery, four blokes decide to go for a hike in Sweden to honor his memory. One of the lads, Luke, was with Rob during the robbery, but he bitched out and hid while the robbers confronted and murdered him, so he is naturally carrying around a lot of guilt.

THEY COULDN'T HAVE BUILT HIM A SHRINE IN ENGLAND? WHERE IT'S MUCH SAFER?
When one of the guys falls and hurts his knee, the group decides to take a shortcut through a nearby forest to reach their destination, because as if a nature hike doesn't sound like a shitty enough vacation for four 40-year-old guys to take together, a quick jaunt into the isolated forest makes even more sense.

NOPE.
Of course, there's danger in them thar woods, and it comes in the form of a massive creature that is hungry for human blood. It also likes messing with their dreams, because it's apparently a vengeful god of some sort,

ALL HAIL SNIVENGUTENGORTEN, GOD OF HEADLESS STRAW FIGURES!
The Ritual is Backwoods Horror done right. In most films of this kind, we get a gang of dumb-ass characters making stupid decisions which see them trapped in some remote place, looking a sure death right in the face. Most of those characters tend to annoy too, which makes it worse. In The Ritual though, not only do the filmmakers do a great job of turning the Swedish countryside from stunningly gorgeous to dark and forbidding with ease, but the cast is top-notch, and the situation that they get themselves into is believable one.

The Norse mythology is thick in this one, with the Jōtunn being a giant, godlike creature, who is said to be a child of Loki by its worshippers, although they dare not speak its name; as well as the hanging aspect of things screaming Odin. That whole aesthetic was a really great touch that made what could have been a run-of-the-mill backwoods Horror story into something different, and dare I say, special.

It's a moody piece that emotes waves of quiet dread in a very effective way. This could have been just another B-grade Horror flick, but director David Bruckner and his cast made it into something more.

YES, YOU SHOULD TURN BACK NOW.
The ending threw us a bit. It's a straight-forward ending, and it wraps the story of one character up nicely, but I personally wanted a bit more of a prelude to chew on. Not the biggest issue, but it just felt abrupt.

APPARENTLY RURAL SWEDEN HAS NOT GOTTEN WIND OF THE #METOO MOVEMENT QUITE YET.
We've said it so many times over the years, that we figured everyone would have learned by now: Stay out of the damn woods, especially when you're in a foreign country. You don't know whats in those woods. Killers, demons, angry reindeer... just stay on the main path, avoid shortcuts, and you will survive your journey!

MAIN PATH, GENTLEMEN!
The violence and gore in this one is timely and effective, but not overly-plentiful.

THAT'S A BIG DOG.
Well, there is some naked man flesh on display, but it's not mean to be sexy.

YOU'RE GROWN MEN. ENOUGH WITH THE SELFIES!
The cast is solid, the location (which the cinematography brings to eerie life) is suitably terrifying, and the monster that lurks in the woods is a unique one. The Ritual is a very solid film that really deserved a theatrical run, and at the very least, deserves to have everyone who loves Horror check it out on Netflix.

A

The Ritual is streaming on Netflix now.

This movie is mainly populated by men, but there is some femininity to be found.

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