Four Friends Phil, Dom, Hutch, and Luke decide to meet up and go on a hiking trip along the Kungsleden, located in northern Sweden, to honor their friend Rob who died six months prior as a bystander in a robbery. The four friends share a small moment where they light some candles and set up some mementos and a picture of Rob along the trail before they toast in his honor. After the group sleeps for the night they start hiking the rest of the trail when misfortune strikes as Dom injures his knee and requires medical assistance. Hutch determines the group could make it back faster if they cut through a section of the nearby forest instead of following the marked trails around it hoping to get Dom’s aid faster. Once the group enters the dense forest they begin to notice an eerie feeling in the air as they discover strange symbols carved into trees and an elk that has been gutted and hung inside the branches of some trees. As the sun starts to set a downpour of rain settles over the forest as the group scurries through the forest to find shelter they come across a derelict cabin, determined to escape the rain they break inside to spend the night. Settling inside the cabin the men discover an odd alter-like statue of a humanoid torso with deer antlers on its hands as well as some runic necklaces. As they sleep Luke dreams of the night Rob died, remembering his cowardice as the robber’s harassed Rob and he hid allowing his friend to die. Waking up the next morning they discover a strange wound on Luke’s chest and Phil is stripped of his clothes in a pose of worship at the altar. Unable to recall why he is in the room with the statue and in a panic the group decides to promptly leave and continue back to civilization. After hiking for the entire day the sun begins to set again and the group set up camp to rest for the night. Luke’s continuing nightmares are brought to a stop as his consciousness screeches back to reality due to Phil’s screams. Realizing that Hutch’s tent is collapsed and empty the remaining guys rush deeper into the woods in hopes of finding their missing friend. As the group is thrown into a hellish scenario where they must fight to survive the dense wilderness and the supernatural threat that stalks around them on the edge of the forest line.

The Ritual holds an approval rating of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes but was met with some mixed reactions by critics. The film succeeds in capturing the beauty of the natural settings and pairs it against the tension of isolation and injury. As the group dynamic begins to fracture the portrayal is one that doesn’t fall flat. The Ritual’s execution of the familiar horror concept, a group of friends lost in the woods with a supernatural predator, is recognizable but fresh as the entity chosen is a unique concept in both design and lore choices. If you find that you enjoyed this film as much as I did I suggest you also check out the 2011 book by Sam Troughton the film is based on by the same title The Ritual.

As always, if you’ve seen the listed film, dislike the film, or just don’t believe you would like it we have provided a list of alternative choices for you to pick from: alternative-films-for-this-spooky-season

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