The Ritual



I very rarely get excited about movies.  I am a complete movie snob.  I went through a period in my early 20's where I didn't even watch a movie for maybe three years?  I get so annoyed knowing the clock is moving and my day is wasting and whatever I'm watching is poorly written or acted, or both.

I love horror, just, in general as a part of my life--haha--but unfortunately horror is one of the genres least likely to impress a total snob like me.  So on the very short list of movies that I enjoy, the slots for horror are even more limited.  This sucks for me because like I said, I love scary stuff and being spooked and ghosts and nightmares and horribleness.  Movies just take the "cheap scary" lazy route (one of the main reasons video games are superior.)  I roll my eyes at gore, I sleep through possessions, and every ghost that I get excited about ends up being an over-the-top spookfest at the end of the movie or doing like the movie 'Mama' and turning into a Tim Burton edgefest.

I found the movie on a whim because I was bored and Netflix was available.  I freaking love when I have luck like that.  I was so enchanted with this movie that I stopped whatever craft I was doing to just watch, enraptured.  The wind was blowing super hard that night, we had gusts up to 97 miles an hour, and the CREEP FACTOR was SO HIGH, just sitting there in the dark with the wind howling through the walls and doors.

There's so much to love about the Ritual.  Honestly, the opening scene where Rob dies was really stomach-churning for me.  Like I say, I roll my eyes at gore, but it was subtle and realistic, which made it way "scarier."  From there the movie really took off.  I thought the pacing and momentum were great, and even though they had some pretty cliche 'horror story in the woods' opportunities here--cabin at night, creepy wooden idol, weird Swedish hillbillies...they really did well with them.

When Luke woke up from his nightmare and realized he was outside then rushed back inside to find everyone in chaos I was legitimately terrified!  Stuff like this is just really eerie and that's what I love.  It's the same reason I prefer horror video games: plot building, characterization, atmosphere, more atmosphere, a sense of dread, and did I mention atmosphere?  Specifically the sound direction was great--there was no music, just the ominous 'something in the woods' snaps and pops and ooooh I'm getting creeped out just thinking about it.  I grew up in the woods and can attest to how terrifying they get, even in the middle of the day with the sun shining.  

Another thing I loved is that the 'creature' was actually shown.  That can either pay off or be really cheesy and so far most people who I've convinced to watch the movie agree that it paid off.  So many movies do a cop-out and make something Christian (demons, devil, blah blah blah same old crap) and pray the monster away that I have gotten accustomed to my hopes being crushed.  This story actually stuck to a Nordic bastardized creature and wow!  That character design.  I'd play that video game.  No seriously, I loved the way it looked, it added so much to the movie at the end.

On the same "everything can be bible-shouted-at-awayed" annoyance and its blissful absence here, this movie had less religious reasons for Luke's survival and more human ones.  He overcame his guilt, his "pain" as the one follower called it, and I think that's beautiful.  Maybe a bit anti-climactic as to the method, but I really enjoyed his angry scream into the wilderness.

The only head-scratchy part for me were the draugr-esque like people in the attic at the end.  They were severely creepy and I LOVED the scene and the setting on of fire, but I wasn't sure who they were.  Really old worshippers? Original bodies of worshippers who were now in younger bodies? Punished souls? The dead?  I need more info, Ritual, pls.  

Just a mention about Sweden--I had no idea when I hit 'play' that I was watching a movie supposedly taking place in Sweden.  Honestly if they hadn't stressed it I wouldn't have known.  The terrain just looked...not Swedish (it's mostly flat, thanks to ice caps squashing it on their way down) and as another friend noted, if they were there in winter there would be no daylight, and if they were there in summer, there would be no sunset.  Day and night seemed to progress normally, which makes sense when you realize it was filmed in Romania, nowhere near the land of the Midnight Sun.

I think those are minor details though, only because the mood of the forest was so good and spooky.  I'll suspend belief since this is literally about a Loki-child monster that eats people and gets worshipped by Deliverance Swedes.

So anyway, check it out!  That's it from me until we return from our California Wasteland Adventure!!! I'm so excited you guys.