Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Cast: Rafe Spall, Robert James- Collier, Arshar Ali, Sam Troughton, Maria Erwolter, Kerri McLean, Paul Reid, Jacob James Beswick, Francesca Mula.
A walk through the woods was perhaps not an issue for travel writer Bill Bryson as he made his way through the Appalachian mountain range, but for the unwary, for the party who go in search of the intrepid when they are not suited to the conditions or the sense of loneliness that comes with such a journey, the woods, the forest, can hold quite a mystical barrier over their well being.
For the four men who make their to northern Sweden to hike and reminisce over a lost friend, the very act of The Ritual before them is both about memory and symbolism and one that can be seen as a path too far.
The cinema goer is given one of those rare moments in their day when presented with the cast, the storyline and setting in which the Director manages to combine all three elusive consequences which make up a great film. The mainly British cast is not just a delight, it showboats just how adept, how good the line between theatre and cinema is and how it can be crossed over with the right script.
Like many other British gems of the past 20 years it probably won’t be given the wide reception deserved because it doesn’t have the one ingredient to guarantee a box office smash, the will of the public to embrace something they don’t know, preferring instead to be given the same old reinvention and happy ending that fills up the screen.
The Ritual doesn’t just utilise perfectly arguably two of the finest actors of their generation, the magnificent Rafe Spall and the superb Sam Troughton, in the picture but it occupies a thought that we have become so far removed from nature that we cannot walk through a forest without it sending us into the realm of disbelief, into a cold sweat of fear. It is in this loss that we have welcomed far too easily the concrete and the glass, the cement and the fumes of modern living and the film plays on this fear, plays on our modern approach with great effect.
A classic of the genre, The Ritual stirs up feelings of regret and absolution, ask questions on the perceived nature of cowardice and the pull of what we have lost in the pursuit of destroying nature.
Ian D. Hall