February is a big month for genre fans on Netflix. Just last Monday the streaming service released, to everyone’s surprise, the latest installment of the Cloverfield franchise and on February, 23rd Duncan Jones’ Mute and Alexander Garland’s Annihilation will get their release. But not only sci-fi fans will come to enjoy some of the good stuff, Netflix is still trying to make a name for themselves in the horror genre. Last months disappointing The Open House kicked things off and last Friday The Ritual dropped. Forthwith the question is: Is this one actually good?
The Ritual tells the story of four friends taking a hiking vacation in Sweden to commemorate a friend who died during a robbery. When one of them is injured, they decide to take a shortcut through the woods, a choice with fatal consequences. Our protagonist is Luke. He is still traumatized by his friend’s murder and blames himself for Robert’s death. The Ritual portrays his journey from a man who fails under pressure toward a fierce fighter.
Luke is a quite compelling character who has to endure a lot and at the end stands meaningful character development. The supporting characters are less appealing since they barely have any distinguishing characteristics and are mostly forgettable and have almost no memorable moments. This lack of depth isn’t that big of a problem, though, since the actors are bringing their A-game and manage to deliver performances that make scenes work which wouldn’t have worked otherwise.
The Ritual’s best feature is by far the horror. Without relying on jump scares the movie develops an amazingly frightening atmosphere and every scare hits. The monster is hidden in the shadows for most of the time, but when it is revealed you get to see one of the scariest monster designs in recent memory.
There is not much more to say about The Ritual that wouldn’t be a spoiler and the scares work the best without knowing them beforehand. Netflix is more than making up for The Open House with this one and I really recommend watching it.