It is not always that the English horror is present, especially using locations and creatures based on Norse myths. But that is exactly what The Ritual brings, in a production of horror directed by David Bruckner, written by Joe Barton and based on the book of the same name of Adam Nevill.
The feature film begins as many horror films, but soon stands out for details not very common in this genre. At the beginning of the story, the great friends Luke, Phil, Hutch, Dom and Robert, have beer in a bar and try to decide where to go to have fun. The choices are diverse, such as sightseeing in Amsterdam or camping in a forest and remote area of Sweden.
Before choosing, however, the friends separate and two of them, Luke (Rafe Spall) and Robert (Paul Reid), enter a small market to buy drinks. And that’s when an assailant kills Robert for not giving his wedding ring. Luke, not knowing what to do, hides himself the whole time and this makes him feel very guilty even months later.
The friends, then, decide to go to the inhospitable area of Sweden, as this was the place that his deceased friend had wanted to meet. Forests are perfect locations for the genre, with the mysteries not only of nature but also of ancient and mystical stories. Successes such as that in The Blair Witch are based on these aspects, especially when the filmmakers do not let the villain of the film appear, creating both anticipation and fear in the audience.
Films of this genre deal with both protagonists who discover horrors committed in the past and with protagonists who have some kind of problem, usually involving guilt, but who can not solve them. The Ritual is part of the latter. However, unlike the narrative strategy generally used by such great directors who reveal this problem or guilt over the course of the film, this production brings this in the beginning.
The result is that we already know what the subject is from the beginning. In a genre that needs suspense to succeed, letting the audience know more than the characters is a very risky strategy. To be effective, then, the Ritual needs its horror scenes to compensate for the lack of suspense in the plot.
The Ritual begins well, not only showing Nordic landscapes rarely seen in the movies, but also strange chilling events that give the audience an idea of what is to come. Twisted trees and roots with human shapes resemble even the kind of omen that became famous in The Blair Witch.
But the similarities end there. Perhaps the problem that stands out most is that, suddenly, The Ritual uses styles that were not part of the movie minutes before. Thus, the main character is transported in his dreams to the market where his friend was murdered, something that does not fit very well with the suspense of a forest. But the most negative aspect of such a narrative is that, once again, the film begins to show too much what it should have left in suspense.
The same thing happens when the villain of the movie appears. A Nordic demigod that appears too much, giving less fear than productions where evil beings remain in the shadows. To make the story even more complicated, a mystery remains throughout the story: whether the character really grew up, or at least learned something about his sense of guilt.
(This article original language is portuguese. This translation was made with Google Translate)