The Ritual

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There is nothing more horrifying than being lost in the woods.

The Ritual starts off strong, introducing a cast of interesting characters and a decent plot. I have to say that Robert’s (Paul Reid) death, and the callous brutality of it, caught me off guard. I felt that it really set a tone for the film.

The atmosphere of this film is incredible. The oppressive dread that permeates the Swedish forest is intense and unsettling. This is accomplished through impressive cinematography and phenomenal sound design. Every creaking branch, every snapping twig sends a shiver creeping up your spine.

The Ritual also effectively portrays the psychological horror and insanity of being lost in the forest and hunted by an unknown being. It was simultaneously heart-wrenching and fascinating to watch this group of friends turn to paranoia and blame and anger in the face of true horror.

The scene where Phil (Arsher Ali) is found naked and praying to the pagan idol is one of the most disturbing scenes I’ve witnessed in quite some time.

As with most horror films, The Ritual is absolutely fantastic right up until the reveal.

I loved that, for most of the movie, the viewer was kept from seeing the creature. There is one scene where the characters are climbing up an incline, and a quick glimpse of the monster is shown through some trees. That is, in my opinion, an effective and excellent way to make a horror movie.

True fear is fear of the unknown.

Unfortunately, as soon as Luke (Rafe Spall) and Dom (Sam Troughton) are captured, the oppression and intensity are gone. When the creature is shown in full, and then blatantly explained, it is no longer horrifying. It is, instead, simply a plot device rendered in questionable CGI.

Overall, The Ritual began as a unique and mesmerizing horror film that quickly fell prey to genre cliches and mediocrity.

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