Walk of pain

THE RIT­UAL The Big Chill meets the Evil Dead in David Bruck­ner’s Brit hor­ror…

Total Film - - Teasers -

Four twats in a for­est,” one char­ac­ter quips in a mo­ment of self-aware, self-dep­re­cat­ing hu­mour dur­ing cabin in the woods chiller The Rit­ual.

It’s an achingly per­fect sum­mary for a film that has bantz and blood­shed in equal mea­sure. “There was a sense of char­ac­ter to it,” di­rec­tor David Bruck­ner tells Teasers. “Cou­pled with a genre cu­rios­ity. It’s stuff I hadn’t seen be­fore.”

Based on the 2011 novel by Adam Nevill, the film finds four uni friends on a hik­ing hol­i­day in north Swe­den, an act of re­mem­brance for a friend mur­dered in a rob­bery gone wrong. Sooner than you can say “Blair Witch”, the bick­er­ing buds take a short­cut through some spooky woods, where some­thing seem­ingly in­hu­man lurks.

For the cen­tral role of Luke, wracked with guilt over the death of his friend, Bruck­ner en­listed Rafe Spall and built the cast around him. The band of Brits had plenty of ad­vice for their Amer­i­can di­rec­tor. “Oc­ca­sion­ally, I’d say, ‘What about this?’” Brucker re­calls. “And ev­ery­body would look at me like I was crazy. ‘You can’t rob a con­ve­nience store with a cricket bat!’ It seemed com­pletely rea­son­able to me.”

Hu­mour is not in short sup­ply then, but it would be in­ac­cu­rate to de­scribe

The Rit­ual as a hor­ror-com­edy. In­stead, Bruck­ner dou­bles down on the in­her­ent ter­ror of av­er­age blokes fac­ing a force of

na­ture they can barely com­pre­hend, let alone fight. “I tried to keep the hu­mour to the char­ac­ters and to the way that they’re man­ag­ing the sit­u­a­tion,” says Bruck­ner, who pre­vi­ously di­rected 2007 in­die hor­ror The Sig­nal. “And to keep the forces of dark­ness a bit more se­ri­ous.”

Shot on lo­ca­tion in a largely un­ex­plored Ro­ma­nian for­est, The Rit­ual has a rare am­bi­tion for mod­ern hor­ror. In part, be­cause it has the back­ing of Andy Serkis’ pro­duc­tion com­pany. “When you have the Imag­i­nar­ium Stu­dios be­hind you, you can find your favourite de­signer and beg them to come on board!” Bruck­ner says of his film’s mys­te­ri­ous crea­ture. “So we had Keith Thomp­son [Pa­cific Rim, Crim­son Peak] con­jure some­thing from your wildest night­mares. I can safely say I’ve never seen any­thing like it be­fore.”

ETA | 13 oc­To­bEr / ThE riT­uAl opEns This Au­Tumn.

Sud­denly that short­cut through the woods didn’t seem such a good idea…

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