In THE RITUAL (2017), a Netflix movie based on the fine book of the same title by Adam Neville, a group of men who’d gone to school together decide to go hiking in Sweden as a vacation to honor a friend who’d passed away. Wet, cold, and unfit for this type of trip, they decide to take a shortcut through a forest and end up terrorized by a malevolent creature. The result is a very simple horror movie that got everything just right for me–story, pacing, direction, character, monster element, and the menacing desolate Scandinavian forest setting.
The characters are likeable, and their reactions are genuine; when they’re being hunted, they go from denial to terror to complete helplessness. Along the way, you see them all transform from men in civilization to exciting vacation to discomfort to crisis to hopelessness and confronting death. There’s a strong theme of how far you should go to put your life on the line for others and your own self worth. The last act of the movie deviates from the book, but in a streamlining way that makes sense of the medium and wraps up the theme nicely.
And wow, that monster. Very similar to what I pictured reading the book but even weirder and creepier. I found it incredible. Everything about that thing was terrific for me to watch.
Happy to recommend this one.