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