There is far more to the picture than friends on a spooky holiday
The Ritual is a perfect example of how a low budget horror can be made to create a big impact, deviating from the cheapening style of jump scares that all too often flood the genre’s release lists.
After a fatal attack on their friend in an off-license, four men decide to backpack through northern Sweden in his memory. When one of the group suffers an ankle injury, they change routes to take days off their trip. However, the forest they have chosen has a distinctly supernatural past, and after just one night, their lives become subject to the monster that lurks behind the trees.
It simply does not stand with big scares and frightful jumps, instead, it focuses on historical lore and age-old myths. The secondary storyline acts as a powerful backup and it’s symbolism really shines through to the forefront. It is this crossing of paths that sets the film on steady ground, allowing for any of the weaker elements to go by largely unnoticed.
Pehaps The Ritual’s most engaging aspect is its stellar cast who portray the speed from which a group filled with hidden problems covered by ‘banter’, can instantly turn to bickering, fighting, and fear. This sudden change over one night becomes the making of each character and credit has to go to the actors for showing how mentally frail each of us would be in the same situation.
At times it feels like a stage performance, with tight-knit scenes and flowing dialogue, but its expansion of the unknown is what gives The Ritual a cinematic edge. A good character piece is often hard to come by, especially within the genre of horror, and there is far more to the picture than friends on a spooky holiday. It runs deep in multiple directions, with an unsettling, spine-tingling story.