When your day starts you never quite know what you can expect from it. I mean sure, you might have a general outline of things, but there might also be some events that you have absolutely no influence over whatsoever. Some of these might be very normal like a flat tire on your bike. But there are also events that you hope to never encounter in your life. Like a terrible accident or a hostage situation. And when things like that occur there are always people that rise up above themselves. That can become a hero. But you will never know what you might do yourself until that moment arises. Will you cower in fright or will you do everything in your power to conquer your fears and meet the situation head on? It can be quite easy to say that someone was a coward when you weren’t there. How you might have knocked over that armed gunman or pulled that victim out of that burning car. The truth is you don’t know and you can’t know. I truly hope to never be in such a dilemma myself though. A fact that one of the characters in this film might have wished for as well.

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Yes this really is a picture of four men looking at a bunch of stones.

In The Ritual a group of four friends are trying to come to terms with the loss of their friend Rob who got killed in a horrible way six months earlier. To honor him, they decide to go hiking in Sweden, which is one of the things that Rob had wanted to do. The four of them, Dom, Luke, Phil and Hutch have just about completed their trek when Dom falls and hurts his knee in a bad way. Checking their map they are trying to decide how best to continue. Eventually they think their only course of action is to head of the path and straight into a nearby forest hoping they can save a few hours this way and make it back sooner. I don’t think that I really have to explain that this turns out to be a very bad decision on their part. Soon, they are beginning to encounter very strange phenomena in the darkened woods. Weird symbols carved on trees and gutted animals strung up high above them are just the start. It seems that a strange and ancient force calls the forest it’s home. And it doesn’t take very kindly to strangers….as the four friends are about to find out……

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And now we are all going to raise our hands and do the wave!

The Ritual is one of those movies that you might all have seen before in some form or another and it has a lot of familiar things in it. I often hear people say that a movie needs to be original in order for them to enjoy it. If that is the case than I can tell you right now, step away from this film. This one has a lot of well known clichés in it, that you will often find in these “lost in the woods” kind of movies. But does that necessarily make this a bad film? No way. What the movie lacks in originality it makes up for in suspense. I did not experience a single moment in this movie where I felt bored. Right from the opening of the film, it has a pretty nice pace that doesn’t let up until the end of the credits. The creepy wood is creating a tense and chilling atmosphere, and it also one of those movies that really depends on sounds. I was watching this late last night, in the dark and in a very silent house and trust me when I say that I jumped up quite a few times during certain scenes.

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Why on Earth would you walk in a forest on a “path” like that.

The actors, all of them pretty much unknown to me, did a great job in portraying their characters. The film’s focus lies primarily on the character of Luke, and as such he is the most fleshed out of the bunch. Played expertly by actor Rafe Spall, Luke is someone that you can definitely feel for. His trauma from the past, is one that weighs on him heavily throughout the film. Especially when his other friends are slowly beginning to lay extra guilt on him. The group dynamics and their conversations under pressure are well written and utterly convincing. When it is beginning to become clear that they may never find their way out of the terrifying forest, the tensions between the four men are beginning to rise. It puts their friendship to the test until the breaking point, and it’s done so in a very realistic way. Also, because the film spent it’s time in letting us get to know all the characters, we form an attachment to them, which is important when it comes to films such as these.

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Look! Up in the sky. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…not that S-dude.

Ultimately The Ritual was a very pleasant surprise. This Netflix original, might not be very original, but for it’s intended audience it works. The movie is based on a, from what I have read, pretty succesful novel written by author Adam Nevill. Having seen this film now, it was entertaining enough for me to try and track this book down. If you are in need for a quick fix of late night horror, this one is definitely worth checking out. Atmospheric, tense, and definitely creepy at times, the Ritual is a well acted and quite entertaining little horrorfilm. I recommend seeing this one with all the lights out, and cranking up the stereo. It will only add to the experience trust me on that (and really who cares if you wake up the neigbours in the process right?). I do know one thing though. After having seen this film, I’m going to be avoiding the woods for a while. Just in case……

I give The Ritual a 8 out of 10 score.

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