The Ritual (2017)

02/18/2018 20:02

Film: The Ritual

Year: 2017

Director: David Bruckner

Writer: Joe Barton

Starring: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali and Robert James-Collier



This film starts with 5 friends in a pub. They are Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton and Paul Reid. They are trying to figure out where they are going to go for their next trip. Reid suggests they go hiking in Sweden. No one really seems to like the idea. They leave, still undecided on where they will go. Spall isn’t ready to call it a night and he convinces Reid to come into a nearby liquor store with him to get some vodka.

They notice the store is pretty empty. As they are talking, a group of people come from the back. They are robbing the store. They take Reid’s wallet, while Spall is hiding around the corner of an aisle. Reid is asked to turn over his ring and he refuses. He is then killed with the machete the thief is wielding.

We then shift 6 months into the future. The four surviving friends are hiking in Sweden. They get to the top of a small mountain to honor their friend that passed away. They start their return journey. Troughton trips, causing him to sprain his knee. He claims to be his MCL and this isn’t the first time that he has done this. James-Collier knows that they are going to need to get back as fast as they can or Troughton will start to really complain. He does throw out they can go through the woods and cut their journey much shorter.

It starts to rain very hard. As they go they find an elk that is dead. It is hanging between two trees and has been gutted. This makes the men uneasy. Due to Troughton and the rain, they don’t get out before the night falls. Spall doesn’t like this and notices a mark on a tree. They come upon a house and break into it to stay for the night. They look for things to start a fire and Spall doesn’t like this even more. One of them searches upstairs and finds something in one of the rooms. The rest join him to find a torso that looks human, but has antlers for hands. They decide to go to bed and then hit the road at daybreak.

They are all haunted by nightmares that night though. Spall is faced again with what happened at the liquor store. When he comes out of it, he has marks on his chest as if something hit him and they are bloody. He goes inside to find the others as shaken as he is. They are missing Ali though. They go upstairs to find him completely naked, praying to the odd statue. They pack up and head outside. Spall prefers to go back the way they came and leave the woods. The rest want to continue on and not waste the time.

The problem with this is that they are stalked by something though. It makes sounds that are not human and it sounds big. There are branches that are much too big to be broken around them. Spall tries to voice this, but he is stopped by Troughton to keep it together.

Can they keep their sanity and make it out of the woods alive? What killed the elk? Was it demented hunters or something else? What about the sounds they are hearing? Are they from a monster or something else?

I was turned on to this film from a lot of podcasts covering it and seeing it on Netflix. I had heard about it when it was making its festival rounds so I decided to check it out. I have to say that I really enjoyed it. The film’s basic premise is solid. We have a group of friends who are honoring a friend’s last wish. To go deeper than that though, you have Spall needing to face the guilt of what happened to their friend. I like that the creature in this film is showing these men things that their fear or at least just unnerves them. I’m normally a guy who doesn’t need to see the monster, but if you do it better look good. I did think that what is in this film was interesting. I liked the cult that is worshipping it, but I just wish they would have gone a little deeper into them since they were quite interesting. I feel they could have focused slightly more time there than the men walking through the woods. That is really one of my only complaints though to be honest.

The acting for the film was really good. This is primarily a cast of just four guys. Spall was great in the lead role. I felt horrible for him, because he is stuck trying to deal with his inability to save his friend. He froze and watched him die. Seeing him grow from that to what he does at the end of the film was great. Ali and James-Collier were both solid in their supporting roles. Troughton played the whiney friend really well. He was important for the film especially when he snaps at the situation they are in. The rest of the cast round out the film well.

The effects for the most part in the film were CGI which in this film’s case though it didn’t bother me. There was a little blood that looked good. The creature I was expecting to hate, but I thought it was interesting. Definitely something I wish I could know about for sure. I loved its back-story as well. The editing of the film was good. It built tension until the climax and I felt it was pretty satisfying. I also found the score to be great. It set the mood for the scenes and definitely gave the creepy vibe. It also helped to build the tension as well.

Now with that said, I would highly recommend seeing this film. It has a concept we’ve seen before with a group of friends going hiking and encountering something in the woods. This goes farther though with Spall’s character having to deal with the guilt of what happened to their friend. The acting coupled with the story definitely made this film work for me. I thought the effects for the film were good. The creature was interesting looking and is something I’d love to learn more about. The editing of the film was solid and helped build the necessary tension. The score also helped here and give the film an even creepier vibe. I’d definitely say give this one a viewing as I thought it was great. I will warn you the film is from Great Britain so if you have issues with accents, keep that in mind.


My Rating: 9 out of 10