Hor­ror and lad­dish ban­ter col­lide in for­est blood­bath

Belfast Telegraph - - LIFE - Da­mon Smith

The Ritual (Cert 15, 94 mins)

The Han­gover downs shots with De­liv­er­ance and The Blair Witch Project, and blood flows more read­ily than the booze in David Bruck­ner’s hor­ror thriller.

Laced with Nordic mythol­ogy and lad­dish ban­ter, The Ritual is a grim tale of hap­less 30-some­thing pals who get hor­ri­bly lost in a Scan­di­na­vian for­est and come face-to-face with a malev­o­lent force that drives them to the brink of de­spair.

You won’t need a map and com­pass to nav­i­gate each twist in Joe Bar­ton’s script or dis­cern the or­der in which thinly sketched char­ac­ters are most likely to meet a grisly demise.

The wind­ing path to car­nage is fa­mil­iar, and Bruck­ner em­ploys gal­lows hu­mour to ac­knowl­edge th­ese hor­ror tropes as well as al­le­vi­ate ten­sion, like when the pals stum­ble into a tum­ble­down shack un­der dark­ness and dis­cover their tem­po­rary refuge is fes­tooned with an­cient runes.

“This is clearly the house we get mur­dered in,” quips one of the gang.

Tragedy stalks early scenes as five drink­ing bud­dies — Dom (Sam Troughton), Hutch (Robert James-Col­lier), Luke (Rafe Spall), Phil (Ar­sher Ali) and Rob (Paul Reid) — fail to agree on a des­ti­na­tion for their next lads’ week­end.

They leave the pub and Luke and Rob pop into a late night off-li­cence to grab more booze. Un­wit­tingly, they walk into a bun­gled rob­bery. Luke hides while Rob faces the thieves and is hacked to death for re­fus­ing to hand over his ring.

Six months later, the re­main­ing quar­tet heads to Swe­den to hon­our Rob’s mem­ory by hik­ing through the bar­ren, pic­turesque wilder­ness.

Dom twists an an­kle and al­pha male Hutch sug­gests they head back to their lodge by tak­ing a short­cut through a dense for­est.

Ig­nor­ing a sign­post that reads This Is A Very Bad Idea, the likely lads head south­west through the tightly packed trees.

As night falls and thun­der rum­bles over­head, tem­pers fray and the four friends are plagued by night­mar­ish vi­sions that gnaw away at their san­ity.

The Ritual re­sists the temp­ta­tion for cheap, jump-out-of-your-seat scares to fo­cus on a sus­tained build-up of ten­sion.

Bruck­ner’s ap­proach works, tick­ling our dis­com­fort un­til the un­der­writ­ten char­ac­ters’ fears are re­alised in a cli­mac­tic blood­bath aug­mented with dig­i­tal ef­fects.

Real­ism takes a hike and is never seen again.

For­est fear: Rafe Spall (cen­tre) as Luke in The Ritual

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.