The Ritual – UK, 2017

‘They should have gone to Vegas’

The Ritual is a 2017 British horror film directed by David Bruckner (Southbound; V/H/SThe Signal) from a screenplay by Joe Barton (Humans), based on Adam Nevill’s 2012 novel of the same title. It stars Rafe Spall, Rob James-Collier and Arsher Ali.

The Imaginarium Productions/eOne Films movie was produced by Jonathan Cavendish, Richard Holmes (Eden Lake) and Andy Serkis (actor in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and sequels; Burke and HareKing Kong; The Cottage).

Four college friends reunite for a hiking trip but encounter a menacing presence in the forest that’s stalking them…

In the UK, The Ritual is released in cinemas on Friday 13th of October, 2017. Netflix distributes in the USA.

Reviews [may contain spoilers]:

“The monster design is creative. The locations are viscerally remote. The flick hits enough off the right beats and prove that David Bruckner knows how to handle this genre in a variety of ways. The trouble is that this hodgepodge homage to horror tropes never really develops much of it’s own identity.” Phil Brown, Collider

” …the tone shifts from pure horror to action, which inadvertently lessons the tension rather than heightening it. David Bruckner once again makes a case for himself as one of the more talented, confident horror film directors modern cinema has to offer.” Edgar Chaput, Sordid Cinema

“By adding powerful drama and empathetic characters to a familiar formula, Bruckner, Barton, and the whole cast, elevate this woods based horror into something memorable. The strong performances enhance the horror in one of the most terrifying films of the year.” Luke Ryan Baldock, The Hollywood News

“Whether the film is truly terrifying or simply scary, that all depends on how you handle creature features […] Nevertheless, The Ritual is a suspenseful horror flick that, although not entirely breaking new ground, deals with its subject matter in a fun, foreboding and stylish way.” Matthew Ritchie, Exclaim!

“The redeeming factors were the visuals – the lighting of the night horror scenes were genuinely spooky and the magnificent views of the landscape, together with the awe inspiring aerials of the forest in which humans are dwarfed by nature, helped in part to make up for a film that otherwise felt rather long.” Shiroma Silva, Phase 9

” …although the climactic stretch seems to hold promise, The Ritual closes with a dimly-lit third act that’s just as ineffective and underwhelming as everything preceding it – with the film ultimately unable to justify its full-length running time (i.e. it may have worked as one of Bruckner’s V/H/S shorts).” David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews

“Though well-cast and competently written, The Ritual owes its primary effectiveness not so much to story or character per se as to the unsettling atmosphere Bruckner and company have eked out of the forest itself. DP Andrew Shulkind’s impressive lensing often frames the actors dwarfed and dominated by oddly hostile-looking trees whose tops or bottoms we can’t see.” Dennis Harvey, Variety

“The beast itself is the stuff of nightmares and really well created. The cast and acting is fantastic although, script wise, it is in danger of getting bogged down with quite a few arguments but the suspense is ever present and the overall doomish undercurrent keeps your attention, the setting is truly beautiful and terrifying in equal measures.” Sarah Budd, Horror Screams Video Vault

“Unfortunately, Barton’s script favors repetition rather than innovation, which means seemingly endless scenes of the group trudging through ominous woods, griping at each other and getting increasingly paranoid. The moody atmosphere remains, but the lack of new developments weighs the middle section of the film down.” Joe Lipsett, Bloody Disgusting

“Bruckner, aided by Joe Barton’s brilliantly realistic dialogue, does a fantastic job in highlighting all the right themes, without ever resorting to the facile in order to drive the idea home. Playing with the whole “cabin in the woods” horror genre, mixed with what is generally referred to as “pagan folk horror” a la The Wicker Man, the film manages to install a real sense of unease and genuine terror…” Linda Marric, HeyUGuys

“Sadly, The Ritual is one of those movies in which as things get stranger they get less interesting. The movie lost me about halfway through. I’m still eager to see what Bruckner does next, but this one was a trip he probably shouldn’t have taken.” Brian Tallerico,

“I’ve had 3 hours of sleep because I can’t stop thinking about how damn haunting it was. My heart was racing, my eyes were wide open, my emotions wilding. And that’s something different about this film, it really delved into the emotional connections between the main characters which just added that much more to their terrifying stories.” Leo, Letterboxd

“Based on a book of the same name, The Ritual offers very little new. Its brevity requires a brisk pace, and the forest is propah moody, some of the bantz fizzes briefly and the actor’s performances are good, breathing life into the cyphers they have to portray. But this is ultimately a movie that will suffice when you’ve exhausted all other options on Netflix.” Dara Higgins, Thumped

“The film manages to get properly creepy at times but ultimately, it’s pretty much exactly the kind of film you’d expect about a group of guys who get lost in the woods and there are no real game changing elements to be found, just the expected supernatural creature lurking around, some unexplained symbols, nightmares, rituals and witchcraft.” Plain, Simple Tom Reviews

Main cast:

  • Rafe Spall – Jurassic World 2; Shaun of the Dead
  • Rob James-Collier
  • Arsher Ali
  • Sam Troughton – Slumber; Spirit TrapAlien vs. Predator
  • Paul Reid
  • Kerri McLean
  • Jacob James Beswick

Filming locations:


Buy novel:



Categories: 2017, adaptation of a novel, British, rural horror

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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