Thursday 22 March 2018

Aaron’s spoiler-free review of The Ritual

Been banging on to see this beauty for a while, and having been such a big fan of the book, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it and really thrash it about a bit, like when you see them dogs what catch rabbits and absolutely fucking maul it to death with their gnashers until the little blighter’s legs stop kicking and before you know it you’re eating the little bastard in a stew.

Well, now that that metaphor is completely explained, let’s move on! The Ritual follows our rag-tag gang of misfits as they go out hiking in the woods, a tribute to a friend who wanted to do so but died in an armed robbery gone wrong before he could even put his hiking boots on. So, as our friends venture off into the great wilderness, they find out that taking a shortcut through the woods was a bad idea, as something rather sinister begins to stalk their every move.

Spooky, innit?

Now, as mentioned, I was a big fan of the book, so I knew I had to step into this film with a very open mind and take it at ticket face value as films are somewhat much more of a mass market than a fancy paperback, but it turned out that I didn’t really need to as such as this film is mostly (and I mean about 65-70%) loyal to the original source material, which was nice. But hey, this isn’t a review about the book (by Adam Nevill, available on Amazon or all decent bookstores), but one about the film, so let’s hop to it (something that rabbit can no longer do; the sucker! Shoulda ran faster!)

The Ritual is definitely a standout film for me when it comes to the alone-in-the-woods theme, which plays on atmosphere more than the need for pointless jump-scares, which is always refreshing, as was the writing of this film. The dialogue is superb, and it genuinely gives you the feel that these four blokes have been mates for years with their banter, in-jokes, squabbles and all-round body language, which is also a great testament to fine acting and well-choreographed direction.

I also liked that we are shown merely snippets of the horror to come with well-placed camera angles, lighting tricks and, not to overuse the term, blink-and-you-miss=it techniques that really build up the sense of paranoia that our characters may be feeling, which really sucks you into the story.

Towards the end, it did get a bit too “Hollywood” for me at one point, but this was in no way something that made me sigh and roll my eyes, as it was somewhat needed for the pacing, but didn’t seem all that necessary either.

Still, seeing as this film borrows from one source, yet still managed to make a movie of its own that had strong legs, I can’t help but admire this feat of craftsmanship, so it’s a big yes from me.

I recommend it to anyone who loves seeing a protagonist telling an antagonist to “fuck off!” in that beautiful way us Brits do so well! – 7.5/10

Aaron James Waters is a best-selling Pulp Fiction writer who has written more books than he's actually read.

He's also the rotten apple of the group who thinks this whole Star Wars thing needs to hurry up and die already.

You can find Aaron's debut novel on Amazon!

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