Netflix adds ‘The Ritual’ to horror lineup

By True McManis

Netflix has picked up a myriad of shows and movies in the past month, but deciphering which of these new additions to watch can be difficult.

If you’re interested in watching an atmospheric horror film, look no further than “The Ritual” to satisfy all of your late-night horror needs.

The film centers around four college friends hiking through the unsettled lands of Northern Sweden. Soon, tragedy strikes and they’re forced to take a shortcut through a nearby forest where they’re stalked by an ancient evil.

“The Ritual” is directed by David Bruckner, a director who has worked exclusively on short horror segments rather than full-length features. Some fans of the genre might be familiar with his work in the first section of “The Signal” and the “Amateur Night” segment of “V/H/S.”

I was excited by the prospect of “The Ritual” after viewing the trailer because although it feels familiar in this day and age, it also feels very polished. The film does its job on a technical level.

Many of the shots in the film are beautiful, yet ominous. It is a very interesting way to do horror, but left me very satisfied following many of the scenes.

However, there are several flaws that are very common for movies of this nature, such as excessive buildup before any legitimate scary scenes occur.

The film has some disturbing images, but does not dwell on them for long, instead relying on the reactions of actors to convey the emotions they are facing.

While I don’t feel like I’m watching a series of forbidden paintings, such as Robert Eggers’ “The Witch” makes me feel, many of the shots build a paranoid anticipation.

The shots forgo that slow-burning psychological horror for something more immediately terrifying, but not quite as explosive when things really start falling apart.

While many of the shots that utilized natural light, landscapes and forests were beautiful, some of the computer-generated imagery (CGI) used briefly towards the end looked fake and took me out of what should have been some of the more emotional, intense scenes. This isn’t to say that all of the CGI was bad, but some spots felt a bit rushed.

One of the driving forces behind the film were the characters, who are all acted very well, but unfortunately not written as well as they acted.

Most horror movies wouldn’t be around if not for the characters making a variety of supremely stupid decisions, and this movie is no exception. It isn’t as bad as some movies get, but it will still probably make the audience want to yell at the characters from time to time.

Sometimes it feels like certain characters are learning from their mistakes, but because the film focuses on a group of tight-knit friends, those characters often sacrifice rationality for the sake of going with the group. The group then consists of many who refuse to acknowledge the severity of the situation they find themselves in.

In the end, this is probably my biggest complaint with the film because many scary scenes didn’t need bad decisions from the characters to be frightening. This may be due to Bruckner’s experiences with making short films where payoffs are much easier to keep track of and achieve.

All in all, “The Ritual” is an atmospheric and tense movie. While the trailer tries to make it look like a dark comedy, the movie feels very similar to “The Blair Witch Project.” I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for something fresh and tense on Netflix.

E-mail McManis at

Leave a Reply