The Ritual ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

This was a somewhat frustrating viewing experience for me, as the movie feels a little undercooked overall. I loved the slow-burn character build this was attempting, but it felt like a decision was never made as to what Luke, the protagonist's arc would actually be. There are vague notions of bravery, sacrifice, and guilt throughout, but none of them are ever built upon and any growth that character is supposed to experience was unclear to me. And truly we don't end up learning a whole lot about any of these men, despite the fact that we spend so, so much time with them. I love the notion of the collective nightmares they have, but we only ever see Luke's visions (and they're awesome - I love the look of these). This seems to me like a big missed opportunity to let us in on who Luke's friends are.

Once we arrive at the final 10 minutes of the movie or so, it becomes full-on awesome, thanks mostly to an ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE creature design. I would watch 100 movies about this being. It's been so long since I've seen a movie monster that had a design I liked, and this became an instant favorite. There are a bunch of really interesting ideas and lots of great imagery packed into this finale, and I might recommend the movie on that alone.

It's just that it felt like it had so much potential to be about more than monsters. And truly I don't think that's me trying to read too deeply into something that isn't meant to be read that way - the movie seems to want me to investigate it for metaphor. It's got all the elements it needs right there, it just doesn't do a great job of exploring them. It seems to me some of that has to do with the edit - there's a few bizarre transitions and jump cuts that indicated they cut some things, or perhaps had to rearrange some things that they then didn't have the connective tissue to fully reassemble. But I think overall there's just some meandering in the storytelling that's unnecessary, and had they made stronger choices about who these men were and what they were meant to go through in this ordeal, it really could have been one of this year's great horror movies.

As it is though, I ain't mad. Cause that creature is AMAZING. For real, please make a billion movies about this thing. I want more. Or at the very least, let this influence the next decade of movie monsters the way the Cloverfield monster did. I'm sick of seeing that design (which I never liked much to begin with) and I'm ready for whatever the fuck this thing is to take over my monster movies.

Garrett liked this review