Shot in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, The Ritual was directed by David Bruckner, written by Joe Barton, and of course, based on the novel of the same name by Adam L.G. Nevill. Starring Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Roert James-Collier, and Sam Troughton, this British horror film was released in 2017 and is now available on Netflix.
A group of old college friends reunite for a trip to a forest in Sweden, Northern Europe, but encounter a menacing presence there stalking them.– The Ritual IMDb page
The film starts with five friends meeting for drinks, planning a hiking trip. When two split off to buy booze, one ends up dead. Jump forward to the hiking trip and they are forced to cut through the woods in the hope of reaching help due to one of the friend’s injuries. While in the woods, they are driven to take shelter in an abandoned cabin where they make some gruesome discoveries. After that, they realize they are not alone in the trees.
I watched this before reading the book and I did enjoy it. After reading the book, I ending up wondering at some of the changes they made for adapting it to film, but those thoughts are all below the spoiler-line.
Let’s just talk about the film itself. It’s a movie rife with tension and suspense, relying on ominous sound production and a claustrophic setting. The main character not only suffers from the horror hunting him but also a heavy sense of guilt. The four friends are rather unlikable though, to be honest. They brood and yell and refuse to listen, I guess this is how men “bond” in this world? I really didn’t find myself cheering for any of them or caring what happened to them.
As a horror flick about a mysterious monster hunting down a group of friends while the four men attempt to repair their friendship through the horrific experience of unintentionally being hunted down by a monster, it was overall definitely a fun movie, but not exactly one that stands out.
SPOILERS AHEAD. HERE WE GO.
There were two big differences betwene the film and the book.
One is that, in the book, four friends are just trying to have a guys trip out. The main character feels excluded/looked down upon because he is the only one without a tradition job and is not married.
In the film, they decided to make him “guilty” but having him not save a fifth friend during a liquor store robbery. Why was this necessary? Did the director think that most people wouldn’t be able to empathize with the main character of the novel? I felt the movie adaptation of the main character was just so obvious, over blown. Like beating us over the head with the ‘guilt’ message rather than having the subtler, more relatable motivations of the novel MC.
The second difference was the ending. In the novel, a band wants to summon the creature who ends up being none other than Shub-Niggurath herself. The book has it being a cult that lives in the forest and worships the creature, their sacrifices being what keeps them safe from it. The Lovecraftain aspect is completely gone. leaving a more mundane creature. As a fan of dearest Shub, I found that disappointing.
All in all, the book was definitely better than the film.