Quick Hit: Takes an overdone concept and turns it fresh.
Greetings my skeletons and ghoulish friends! Welcome to our month of Horror here at DoubleFeaturePreachers.com – while I’m not quite a good a host as the Crypt Keeper, I’ll attempt to keep up with as many puns and reviews as I can. Our theme this month (because themes are awesome) is Fangs, Families, and Phantoms. Our first film is the Netflix original The Ritual.
The plot is recognizable – four friends, Luke, Phil, Hutch, and Dom, are out on a “mantreat” after the death of their friend. What starts out as a memorial turns more sinister as an injury causes the typical horror movie choices to begin – should we walk through the woods or should we walk the typical path? Obviously, the woods is the way it should go, because we’re full of spooky goodness this month right. Once in the woods, a few bad decisions later leads us to a cabin that has a pagan idol in the attic – and we’re off and running.
The best compliment that I can pay to a film is when a concept that feels familiar turns fresh, and The Ritual succeeds in that with flying colors. Whereas normally friends lost in the woods is presented in a Found Footage concept, here we have the classical film shots that are extremely well done. There is more tension in a lightly colored field of trees than I think I’ve ever felt from the same backdrop. There’re also some really beautiful shots that involve things like pagan sacrifices up in trees. I know that sounds terrible and disgusting, but there is some really good camerawork on display there.
The acting is also pretty good, despite the fact there isn’t a ton most of them get to do. The two characters that end up doing the majority of the work are Luke (Rafe Spall) and Dom (Sam Troughton). The main engine in the story, outside of the literal monster that is the spawn of none other than Loki himself, is Luke’s conflict with what happened to his friend, and whether or not it was his fault. We consistently flash back to the event, which means that we get to experience that conflict with him. Dom is the verbal equivalent of Luke’s conscience, consistently spouting out
why it was all his fault.
Then there is the monster – which frankly I loved. The design of the monster was unique and frightening, and I like that there was more to it than just killing – it seemed like it wanted you to experience things that horrified you. That is an awesome idea, and then when you throw in the idea of wanting to be worshipped and bowed to, and it has a whole new aspect to it. I really liked this portion of the film and thought it was well-examined. I also enjoyed that the director was unafraid to show his monster – too many directors these days seem afraid to show the main character.
As far as downsides, the movie takes a little too long to really get going. We spend a long time in the woods, and some of it isn’t misspent, but it takes a bit of time to really speed up the film. It’s a small misstep, but as the film goes, it feels more and more apparent.
So I’m happy to say that I’m starting off this month with a positive review. I’m going to give The Ritual a “B+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"