Straightforward, unpretentious and well-acted, this is a solid if unsurprising genre piece.
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While thoughtfully done, the entertainment value of this sombre scare fiesta isn’t high. It’s about life’s paths taken and the rituals (and fears) we submit to.
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.
Eventually, the filmmakers reveal the secrets they'd previously withheld, spoiling the film's sustained mystique.
Entertaining, engrossing and at times genuinely unnerving, Bruckner’s bad trip is one for horror fans to relish.
Horror fans who’ve wondered what Bruckner might do with an entire movie of his own will be disappointed by his solo feature-length debut, The Ritual, which attempts to put a twist on the Blair Witch formula but demonstrates surprisingly little imagination.
Spall is good casting in the lead: miserable, hangdog, humorous and scared, like a handsomer version of Josh Widdicombe. James-Collier is a fierce screen presence: some film-maker needs to find something more for him to do.
Somewhere in the murky depths of this modestly gripping thriller lurks a more interesting film about real-life monsters, the kind that prey on human minds not human flesh.
It’s the character dynamics here, more than the dark and stormy set-pieces, that get things off the ground.
If it lacks the originality and sheer muscle of the best horror fare, this does offer an astute take on fragile thirtysomething machismo, and Spall treads a convincingly anguished path towards potential redemption.