FILM REVIEW: Netflix original horror film The Ritual

Influences from other films expose The Ritual’s lack of originality

The Netflix original film “The Ritual”, a bloody and psychological horror movie, was recently released on the streaming platform.

“The Ritual” is based on a 2011 horror novel of the same name that was written by genre writer Adam Nevill.

The novel was credited with being one of the scariest books of the year and was soon after planned to be made into a film.

Director David Bruckner is fairly new when it comes to directing, but after seeing his newest film it is clear that Bruckner has an eye for horror. Bruckner’s previous work includes director and writing credit for critically acclaimed independent horror films such as the 2012 horror movie “VHS”.

Bruckner did a great job considering the uninspired and overall sloppy script he had to work with. The basic plot is a familiar one especially to those who have seen their fair share of horror movies.

The story consists of a group of four friends as they embark on a backpacking trip through the Swiss Alps in memory of their friend, who passed away six weeks prior to the trip.

The story primarily focuses on Luke (Rafe Spall, from “Prometheus”) who is dealing with a great amount of grief after witnessing the murder of his friend and failing at defending him against his perpetrator.

The trip is going fine until one of the guys in the group injures his leg, and of course, they do what any logical person would do – they take a shortcut through the spooky woods.

They make it through the woods and everything ends up fine – just kidding: everything goes terrible.

While in the woods the group begins to find strange pagan carvings on the tree, as well mutilated animals throughout the forest.

It begins to rain and the group stumbles into a cabin to keep dry and to get some needed rest. In the cabin, they discover a strange sculpture of a person that seems to be a part of some strange kind of worship or ritual.

That night everyone in the cabin has horrible nightmares, especially Luke. He wakes up confused finding strange claw marks on his torso. Luke then hears shouting as he goes upstairs to find one of his friends worshipping the sculpture.

The group quickly leaves the cabin and continue down the trail. However; this is only the beginning of the story as someone or something starts following them.

“The Ritual” starts off great. The atmosphere and cinematography are very surreal and wonderful. The film puts the viewer in a constant feeling of dread just like the characters. The film also explores some great themes, specifically grief and guilt.

The first half of the film is wonderful and very frightening. However; the second half almost feels like a completely different movie.

The best way I can explain it is that the first half is a supernatural survival horror movie in vain of “The Blair Witch Project”, but the second half feels like a schlocky SYFY channel monster movie.

Another problem the movie has is that all of the characters except one are extremely underdeveloped. Luke is really the only one with any character development. The ending of the movie also leaves some unanswered questions which could annoy some viewers.

Overall, “Ritual” is worth a watch, especially for the second half. It’s nothing most viewers haven’t seen before, but it is a well-made horror movie that unfortunately suffers from its strange third act.

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