The Ritual

(Bruckner, 2018)

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It is no secret that Netflix is a mixed bag when it comes to original movies. Some are Oscar-nominated, and some are… Bright. There’s really no predicting whether a Netflix Original will be good or bad, so British horror outing The Ritual was a pleasant surprise.

The Ritual is a slow burn thriller that focuses on paranoia, regret, and the deterioration of friendship. Rafe Spall (Life of Pi, Black Mirror) stars as Luke, a man who goes on a remote hiking trip in Sweden with his college friends to honor Rob, a member of the group who was recently murdered in a convenience store. Despite coming together for their friend, tensions are high amongst the group. Several members of the group blame Luke for Rob’s death, as he was present at the scene and too afraid to intervene against the attackers. The meat of the movie happens when the fragmented group gets lost in the Swedish wilderness, causing them to witness strange occurrences with terrifying consequences.

This film has a lot of great qualities. The acting, script and music were all very well done. Rafe Spall’s dedicated performance is what carries us through the entire film and, even though we sometimes question his choices, we are with him every step of the way. Another amazing part of The Ritual is its monster design. I won’t say much here so as not to spoil the film but, if anything, this movie is worth watching for its monster alone.

The Ritual is a simple film. It isn’t the showy kind of horror that a lot of studios bank on these days. There isn’t much sex or gore and there are only a few jump scares. What makes The Ritual worthwhile is its willingness to focus on the characters’ relationships just as much as the thrills. It’s not a film that will “go down in history," but if you’re a fan of psychological or indie horror, this movie is definitely worth your time. ★★★½

David Merkle