The Ritual (2018) Horror Movie Review


“The Ritual” is a 2018 horror film that delves into the depths of friendship, grief, and the unknown. Directed by David Bruckner and based on the novel by Adam Nevill, the movie follows a group of college friends who reunite for a trip through the Swedish wilderness to honor their friend’s last wish. What starts as a bonding experience soon turns into a nightmare as they find themselves lost and stalked by an ominous presence.

The film is praised for its atmospheric tension and moody setting, which Bruckner masterfully crafts to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. The director’s ability to conjure a haunting atmosphere is commendable, making “The Ritual” a standout in the horror genre for its chilling visuals and sound design. However, the film is not without its criticisms. The script, penned by Joe Barton, has been noted for its lack of depth in character development, reducing the group’s dynamic to stereotypical male bravado and sometimes illogical decision-making.

Rafe Spall leads the cast as Luke, a man burdened with guilt over his inaction during a traumatic event that resulted in his friend’s death. Spall’s performance is a highlight, capturing the complexity of grief and self-blame. The interactions among the group, played by Robert James-Collier, Arsher Ali, and Sam Troughton, provide a glimpse into the male psyche, albeit through a somewhat narrow lens. The characters’ reluctance to confront their emotions and the consequences of their choices drive the narrative forward, albeit at the expense of a more nuanced exploration of their relationships.

The film’s horror elements are well-executed, with the Swedish wilderness serving as a character in itself. The dense forests and ancient Norse mythology add layers to the story, creating a backdrop that is both beautiful and terrifying. The creature design is particularly noteworthy, offering a fresh take on the genre’s typical antagonists.

“The Ritual” does not reinvent the horror wheel but offers a solid entry with its effective use of mood and setting. It’s a film that explores the themes of masculinity and survival, though it may leave some viewers wanting more in terms of character depth and script polish. Despite its shortcomings, “The Ritual” is a commendable effort that showcases Bruckner’s directorial skills and provides a gripping, if familiar, horror experience.

In the Nutshell

“The Ritual” is a film worth watching for horror enthusiasts and those interested in the psychological aspects of fear and friendship. While it may not be groundbreaking, it is a well-crafted piece that succeeds in delivering suspense and terror, anchored by a strong central performance and a hauntingly beautiful, yet menacing, natural world. I give 4 out of 5 stars.

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Genre: Demon / Monster

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