Plot: As life pulls them in various directions, a group of middle-aged friends plan a vacation together to bond and relive the good old days. But the plan gets thrown off course when Luke (Rafe Spall) and Robert (Paul Reid) walk into a store and find themselves in the midst of a robbery in progress. As Luke hides, Robert is pushed around by the criminals and when he resists handing over his wedding ring, he is attacked and bleeds out soon after. Months later, the friends decide to pay tribute to their fallen friend and venture to Sweden for a camping expedition. The friends traverse the beautiful woods and bask in the great outdoors, at least until one of them takes a spill and injures his knee. In an effort to speed up the travels, the group reluctantly takes a potential shortcut and soon winds up lost. The woods seem to come alive, nightmares haunt the friends, and there seems to be some kind of malevolent force at work, but is the forest haunted or are the friends just exhausted and paranoid?
Entertainment Value: The Ritual starts off well, with a scene where a man cowers while his friend is killed right in front of him, which proves to be a tense and memorable scene that marks some real potential here. But the movie fails to recapture even a fragment of that tension again and in the end, The Ritual is a predictable, derivative experience. I do appreciate that while the narrative is the same as countless found footage movies, at least the movie doesn’t take that approach. But make no mistake, this is another tale of unlikable friends lost in the woods at the mercy of supernatural forces, so it does little to stand out. I do think between the robbery scene and some cool bits of lore, there was a chance for The Ritual, but it quickly falls into predictable tropes and to be honest, little happens for well over an hour. The friends are dull, forgettable characters with no depth and the dialogue is bland, which is a shame, since that is all we get until about the last twenty minutes of the movie. The finale is better than the rest of the movie, but isn’t worth the slog it takes to get to that point. In the end, The Ritual is unable to build even minor tension and aside from a handful of small lore moments, has no original or fresh ideas, so I can’t recommend this one.
No nakedness. A dude is unclothed at one point, but the angle ensures no untoward flesh is visible. A little blood, but not much and the movie ensures that a lot of the violence is hidden in the dark visuals, so there’s that. The neck wound in the open is splashy, but the rest of the blood is aftermath, such as seeing bodies stuck to trees. I did appreciate the effects seen during the finale however. Not all that original, but the design is cool and at that point, anything halfway entertaining was desperately needed. The dialogue is like oatmeal, bland and forgettable. As I said above, the characters are generic and the cast doesn’t seem interested, so what could have been fun banter or at least dysfunction is pure boredom. Even one interesting character could have worked wonders here, but the movie is content to focus on dull people and lifeless, bland conversations. The finale is a little livelier than the rest of the movie, but anyone who has seen a few found footage horror movies has seen all this before.
Overall Insanity: 1/10