Four old college friends, Luke, Hutch, Phil, and Dom decide to take a hiking trip deep in the Swedish wilderness in order to bond and reminisce about old times. However, the inexperienced hikers soon find themselves hopelessly lost, and as their fragile friendships begin to crack and old resentments surface they become increasingly desperate to escape the woods. But they are not alone. Someone, or something, malevolent is watching them, intent on making them face their deepest fears and ensuring they never leave.
Five friends meet up over drinks at a little tavern to discuss plans for a group outing so that they can catch up on things with one another. Undecided as to where they should take their ‘guys only’ vacation, one of them, Rob, suggests hiking in the Swedish countryside but the idea is quickly dismissed. Later that night the friends leave the tavern and pass a liquor store. Luke, one of the other guys decides he wants to get a bottle of Vodka and Rob goes in with him. While there, two armed robbers enter from the back of the store and Luke hides behind a store shelf. The robbers run into Rob and demand his money and jewelry. Rob gives them everything except his wedding ring, which he refuses and is then brutally beaten to death before his friend Luke has a chance to help him.
While they are hiking up a mountain trail they decide to do a little memorial for their friend Rob. Once they arrive things go great, although one of them gets injured, so they decide to take a shortcut right through the dense woods. Soon after they discover an abandoned cabin in the woods. The cabin looks really creepy and seems that it could have been used for some sort of Pagan rituals.
The remainder of the film begins to show that some very weird stuff is starting to happen. The scenery itself is breathtaking and beautiful, and the backstory of the Wendigo is interesting as well. This film really kept me on the edge of my seat for the most part. It never truly leads where you’d expect, but always tends to satisfy with its dark atmosphere and the mysterious evil force in the woods. The Ritual is actually filmed in Romania and done well, with subtle creepy background and the chilling music reminiscent of a 1981 horror movie.
The creature effects are fantastically done! You never get to see much of the monster, but what you do see looks so amazing and effective. I can’t recall ever seeing anything like it in any other horror film I’ve seen, but it looks pretty damn cool! The film honestly feels a lot like the Blair Witch, only it doesn’t lead where you expect. I thoroughly enjoyed the pacing in this one, the characters, the execution, and the atmosphere seems like you’re embarking on a strangely weird and dark path. A great Netflix Original creature feature for sure!
Title: The Ritual
Release Date: February 9, 2017
Runtime: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Genre: Horror, Suspense, Thriller
Studio: Universal Pictures
Starring: Rafe Spall, Rob James-Collier, Arsher Ali, Sam Troughton, Paul Reid
MPAA Rated: NR
Directors: David Bruckner
Reviewed by: Mike Davidson
Our Rating: 3.8 /5
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