Short Attention Span Review: The Ritual (2017)
While I felt that Hereditary stunk up the joint in a big way, I did recently scope out a truly unnerving horror film on Netflix. Despite the fact that the plot hinges on four otherwise intelligent dudes deciding to take a shortcut through the woods (and sticking to that shortcut despite several clear warnings in the first act that would have inspired any reasonable soul to backtrack), this is a somber outing with some big scares up its sleeve. Yes, The Ritual may suffer from a few serious lapses in character logic, but it will still scare you silly thanks to a potent atmosphere, a fine score, and some magnificent effects. An exercise in mounting dread, it doesn't take long for this one to grab viewers, and the pace is relentless, with things getting tougher and tougher for our protagonists as the picture deftly marches toward unspeakable terror. What awaits our largely unknown cast is a different sort of menace, and this gruesome monstrosity is brought to life in magical ways. I think The Ritual features one of the best creature designs in recent memory, and the final reel is loaded with amazing visuals that allow the horror to take root. There is also a lot of depth to the piece, with the characters turning on one another and struggling to come to terms with their unlikely fate in believable fashion. It's also willing to ask some tough questions, and our response to fear and danger is probed in such a manner that will lead the viewer to ponder whether they would stand their ground or submit in extreme circumstances. This difficult introspection is perhaps the heart and soul of the piece, and it is handled in such a way that this troubling debate gives the film incredible gravitas. The acting is another of The Ritual's strengths, and all told, I found this one to be a grim and disturbing voyage into a wicked unknown. I have to take a few points away for the boneheaded behavior in the opening reel, but beyond that, I have no complaints. Most importantly, it gave me the willies.
Final Grade: B+
|Let this be the last word on the matter: there is no such thing as a shortcut through the woods.|