The Ritual (2017)
February 9, 2018 4:43 PM - Subscribe

A group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that's stalking them.
posted by guiseroom (18 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Lucky enough to be dragged along to a pre-release screening of this British horror flick last year and enjoyed it. The premise and plot are pretty generic, but I really enjoyed the early banter and the wedge issue that the supernatural forces used against them. The presence of the always excellent Rafe Spall classes up the whole film too. Not sure about the cgi - I mean that genuinely, I'm not sure quite what to make of the cgi towards the end, whether the film would be better off without it.

Not the greatest horror ever, but makes a lot of the hoary old "lost in the haunted woods" routine feel surprisingly fresh. Worth a look if it's on Netflix in your region.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 7:17 PM on February 9, 2018

I loved the book. This was OK, good creepy bits and creeping dread.

The film did an awesome job of making the monster size extra creepy.
posted by biscotti at 5:19 PM on February 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

This was basically Blair Witch with a budget.
posted by Justinian at 6:06 PM on February 10, 2018

Which is not really a bad thing IMO.

**Slight Spoilers for The Descent and The Blair Witch Project**

It also bore a strong resemblance at times to The Descent, which is probably my favorite film from this genre (i.e., a group of friends gets lost in the wilderness and eventually run afoul of dark forces aligned against them.)

As with all movies of this kind, it eventually has to make a choice about whether or not to show the monster on-screen—The Blair Witch Project famously did not, while The Descent showed quite a lot of the monsters, probably to its detriment. In the end, I think this film was smart in teasing the viewer with little glimpses through the trees for most of the film, and then at the climax only showing quick shots of the moster up close while mostly opting for a silhouette in the distance, which was very effective.

I was kind of hoping our protagonist would actually be able to save his Dwight Schrute-lookalike friend in order to redeem himself for abandoning his friend in the prologue, but I guess the fact that he didn't leave him to die alone in the woods a few scenes earlier was his redemptive moment.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:22 AM on February 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

Wasn't expecting much from this but found myself surprisingly impressed. Thought it worked really well... lost a bit of tension in the final act but not entirely.

Interesting to see a group of 30-something men in a horror film.. I saw a interview in the director that that was a deliberate decision and then wanted to do something about the difficulty in men maintaining friendships as they leave their youth behind.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:52 AM on February 12, 2018

The scenes with the liquor store lights and shelves in the woods looked really cool. Very creepy.
posted by liet at 8:34 PM on February 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

I really dug it. The thing in the trees was awesome creature design when you finally had the opportunity to see it. It felt a bit like two movies stapled together, the Blair Witch and The Wicker Man (or something), but the haunting guilt and visions combined with a really good monster and the attic revelations about the cult at the very end made it work. I'm tired of man-pain and films focused on men, but I think they did plumb an interesting take as noted by fearfulsymmetry.

I'd watch it again.
posted by Existential Dread at 1:46 PM on February 13, 2018

Oh, and the hand silhouetted against the tree trunk that slowly drew back was an extremely effective jump scare and awesome visual. Loved that.
posted by Existential Dread at 1:51 PM on February 13, 2018

Went in with not too many expectations, came out pleasantly surprised.
posted by triage_lazarus at 8:45 PM on February 13, 2018

I thought this was really enjoyable. It reminded me a lot of Descent, although, in that movie I was disappointed when the creatures arrived, and here I think it added to the movie. Good monster design, too, very weird and not-right.
posted by graventy at 1:20 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I liked this a lot. Scared the hell out of me at a lot of points, and I think the plotline with the murder in the off-license raised some interesting philosophical questions.

I thought of it as Blair Witch meets The Wicker Man meets Deliverance.
posted by holborne at 6:28 PM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

And my husband just watched it and caught something I *completely* missed: the woman who speaks English is the girl from the family whose tent the men find buried in the woods. The drivers license is from the 80s, so the girl would now be a woman. I feel silly now for missing that.
posted by holborne at 10:36 AM on February 24, 2018 [7 favorites]

This now viewable in the UK (on amazon oddly enough). I really enjoyed it and think the creature design is outstanding.

This film, along with Blair With and The Witch do a really good job of showing that the woods are fucking scary, monster or no.
posted by slimepuppy at 1:40 PM on April 14, 2018

Also very much enjoyed this and had weird creepy dreams afterwards. The creature’s head was an interesting visual puzzle, the supermarket in the forest scenes were very effective and it reminded me of the time I went camping in the woods in Sweden and found a freshly dug open grave [real].

I didn’t find it very scary though. And I could have managed with less exposition at the end, and an escape that didn’t imply that the sinister village was 10 min away from a road. But these are quibbles. Overall it really made me want to do some hiking in Romania - the landscape shots were gorgeous.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 10:23 AM on April 16, 2018

I really enjoyed this. Definitely got some creeps from it. But the creature design was really amazing. That shot near the end when it "stands" at full height was really powerful.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:52 AM on April 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed it much more than I expected to as well. Agree with the miss-lapin that creature "standing" shot was very effective. I actually felt a sense of awe toward it, whereas I had previously just felt revulsion/fear and, for a moment, I could imagine how it could have been an object of reverence (even if that reverence were largely violently enforced).

It did had all of the "let's watch people make the dumbest possible decisions" horror tropes but I thought it came at them from a somewhat fresh angle. I review I thought I saw on Rotten Tomatoes but can't find now mentioned something about it being partly a meditation on the consequences of decisions, especially in light of young-ish adult norms of masculinity (I may even be conflating reviews) -- which I thought made the blunders feel less like mere cliches.

The most horrifying scene for me was when they woke up in the cabin. Seeing one of the guys naked and prostrate before that terrifying effigy while the others were in some kind of state of absolute panic yet still dreaming or hallucinating -- that really gave me the chills.
posted by treepour at 1:35 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

The translation from novel to modest budgeted film was mostly pulled off well. Part of me would have really loved to have seen the book's impassable forest scenes dramatized. But I understand why that would have taken the forest scenes from economical and straightforward to expensive and unwieldy.

But I was disappointed that they tossed aside the final act with the heavy metal band Blood Frenzy in favor of Swedish Wicker Man.

I'm also a little underwhelmed by the redemption of a coward throughline as a substitute for the book's trickier ruminations on masculinity.

I dunno. I didn't dislike it. And it got plenty right.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:51 AM on October 18, 2018

I did not want to watch this, but went along with it because I had laptop work to do anyway. It's basically everything I hate in horror films — jump scares, ritualistic cult shit, gore, big scary monsters, etc. However…this was great! Just kinda perfect on every front, can't really fault it for anything.

Dammit, gonna have to give this one a bunch of stars on Letterboxd.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:11 PM on November 17, 2020

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