Streaming Gems: ‘The Ritual’ (Netflix)

Streaming Gems is an ongoing feature where we discuss movies recently released on streaming services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu) that are worth your time.

RATING: ★★ 1/2 (out of four stars)

David Bruckner’s The Ritual hit Netflix this past week and while it borrows elements from horror movies like The Blair Witch Project and The Evil Dead, it’s still a satisfying, creepy horror flick worth any horror fan’s 90 minutes.

The story follows a group of British friends who take a hiking trip in a forest only to find that there is a menacing presence that plays mind tricks on them as they get deeper into the woods. The movie starts with its main character Luke (Rafe Spall) exercising some cowardly behavior as his friend gets robbed and murdered right in front of him in a liquor store. As the movie progresses, Luke has visions in the woods of the incident at the liquor store, which adds a clever aspect to the movie as his guilt radiates throughout the entire run time. And whenever the menacing presence taps into the incident, it makes for some really cool shots.

While the characters in The Ritual including the main character do not have much development, they do well with the roles they are given. As mentioned in the previous paragraph with the cool-looking shots, the cinematography overall is pretty solid, from the rainy wilderness to the disturbing images that will give viewers chills.

One of the best aspects of The Ritual is how well it builds tension as the film progresses. The suspense of the evil presence makes it very difficult to look away from the screen, though that has a downside for the film as well. When we finally get to see what the presence is come the third act, the movie loses most of what it had going for it as the movie becomes less intriguing. This doesn’t make the movie bad, but it comes with the territory of building suspense for most of the run time where the payoff feels unoriginal.

The Ritual could’ve been great if it weren’t for the underwhelming third act. It’s not inadequate by any means, but the payoff feels uninspired and lacking. The idea of a monster that preys on the human mind always makes for a great concept and it could have been explored in other ways that could’ve made The Ritual scarier or more disturbing. While The Ritual decides to go the safe route, fans of the horror genre or those looking for a quick watch (or scare) should check out this original horror movie from Netflix, which is now streaming on their service.