The Ritual (2017)

directed by david bruckner
entertainment one features/the imaginarium

I suppose I can understand the urge some filmmakers get to adapt scary novels into (allegedly) scary movies. But since this compulsion has failed so many times and produced so many risible examples of lousy cinema, it becomes a lot more difficult to understand why some choose the projects they do. Such as, oh, I don’t know, The Ritual. Adapted from a taut, tension-filled book by Adam Nevill that describes a series of psychological ordeals, onscreen this Norse saga becomes a generic monster movie stuffed full of timeworn gestures and set pieces. (And filmed not in Scandinavia but Romania, which amuses me no end.) Often too rushed to develop any of its themes enough to produce any impact, details from the source text are tweaked, omitted or altered with varying degrees of success. A puzzling recurring theme that is wholly the movie’s invention is an error, however, and although the second movement of Nevill’s story isn’t any great shakes, what it becomes on film is not only completely different but far less useful or comprehensible, its intended climactic finale instead ridiculous and nonsensical. Perhaps I shouldn’t have read the novel first.

why did i watch this movie?

It’s my brother’s fault (no, not that one, the other one).

should you watch this movie?

Read the book instead.

Highlight and low point

I usually find the “characters bonding in difficult circumstances” motif enjoyable, even though here I thought it suffered from pacing or abridgment. I guess the cinematography was pretty good. Rafe Spall’s acting in the lead role didn’t do it for me, however, and the silly attempt at a terrifying pagan-god-beast thing … no. Get that weak stuff outta here.

rating from outer space: d

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