Four men on holiday get lost in the woods in Northern Sweden…
They really should have gone to Vegas.
Five friends meet up in a pub to work out where they will go on their next getaway together. They are reluctant to admit their days of going to Ibiza have passed them by, and that lad’s holidays are a thing of the past. Having known each other since university, they now all have jobs, families, and responsibilities, but still have a bond of friendship that runs deep. They leave the pub still undecided, although Rob’s idea of a camping trip in the forests of Northern Sweden – like the Appalachian trial but with less rednecks – seems popular. Luke (Rafe Spall) and Rob (Paul Reid) decide to get a bottle of vodka from the off licence, while Hutch (Downton Abbey’s Robert James-Collier), Dom (Sam Troughton), and Phil (Arsher Ali) decide to call it a night and get an Uber.
While selecting his beverage of choice, though, Luke see the cashier has been attacked, and then Rob is threatened by the thugs. Rob hands over his watch, and wallet, but when they as for his ring, he refuses, while Luke cowers behind some shelving. Rob gets hit in the head, falls to the floor, and as he lies in a pool of blood, he looks at Luke, who stays hidden rather than try to help. As the gang kill Rob, Luke cowers away.
Some time later, Luke awakes in a tent, on a mountain in northern Sweden. The guys have decided to go through with Rob’s idea, and are planning a tribute to their dead friend. They set up a shrine to him on one of the peaks, and drink a toast to him. They set off back to the lodge, but when Dom hurts his knee, they decide on a shortcut through the forest. They first come across a stag hung on a tree with its guts hanging out, and then an abandoned log cabin in the woods. The four friends discover a bizarre straw figure upstairs, but faced with no option due to the terrible weather, they decide to stay the night. After suffering what they assume are nightmares through the night, they set off into the forest, and things just get creepier and scarier.
The plot of The Ritual is nothing you haven’t seen before, and from the very first scene you can tell how the main character will be redeemed. It hits many familiar notes from other horror films, but this is still a decent little horror movie. The Swedish forest is like another character, a truly unsettling presence throughout. There’s also a nice strain of humour through the film, and the scripts owes as much to The World’s End as the obvious Blair Witch Project comparisons. And although it is pretty standard horror fare, it keeps you guessing pretty much until the very end about the true nature of the forest.
If you’re looking for something creepy without being out right scary with a dash of humour, add The Ritual to your plans this Halloween.
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
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