This movie suffers what so many before it have suffered from, and still do, especially in the horror genre: a well-intentioned identity crisis. We are presented with a group of college friends who, after the tragic death of one of them, decide to go hiking to Sweden in his honour. The circumstances make them take a shortcut through the woods on their way back, and that’s where our scary movie begins.
What the group find there is something they have never experienced before, and among the confusion and clichés we have three types of film. One about someone coping with guilt and emotional pain thrown into a challenging and stressful situation with his friends. A survival thriller, where the characters feel trapped and struggle for their lives. And a sort of supernatural horror flick, with obvious Blair Witch vibes. The problem is, as it usually happens, that trying to be three things at the same time makes the movie hard to watch, pulling out all the tension that it might have had.
However, despite the lack of identity and a script that is not well developed, there are some good performances to be enjoyed and an entertaining dynamic between the characters, who, as a group, feel as authentic as any other British friendship on the screen. Really, though, there is little character development, or even depth, and the film only centres its attention on Rafe Spall’s Luke. Spall gives a very compelling and heartfelt performance, without corniness, despite the melodramatic and at times over-the-top situations he faces.
The cinematography is quite solid and employs some CGI in a smart way to build frightening figures in the woods. Apart from that, there are some interesting night shots and very well done recreations of traumatic situations mixed with the misty Swedish scenery.
Overall, this is a film for small-movie lovers and horror admirers. It’s worth the 94-minute watch, although it deflates a bit at the end.
Ritual is released nationwide on 13th October 2017.
Watch the trailer for Ritual here: