After the death of one of their group, four young college friends go on a hiking trip into the Swedish wilderness, as a sort of tribute to the dear departed, who was a lover of the healthy, open air life. The ritual of the title is one they conduct there to honour his memory.
But when one of them is injured, they decide to take a short cut back to civilization through the forbidding and uncharted forest. And as this is a horror film, that is a very bad move.
The opening, which deals with the violent murder of Robert (Paul Reed) in a convenience store robbery and is witnessed by Luke (Spall), who is unable to come to come to his friend’s aid, is both startling and gripping. Once the four characters have been established though, the story then develops into standard horror film fare about a group of people, usually young, going somewhere no sane person would go and being picked off one by one by either a serial killer or, as in this case, an unknown entity.
There are some effective creepy moments to do with macabre indications of more rituals in the forest, this time of the distinctly weird and scary variety, which in turn bring on some well imagined nightmare sequences, particularly for Luke, who is riddled with guilt about his failure to prevent Robert’s murder. The mountains and forests of Romania, standing in for Sweden (where it is probably more expensive to shoot) make an effective backdrop.
The film is efficiently made and the actors strut their fear stuff with total professionalism, but like many horror films, the tension depends solely on what new, gory and disgusting horrors the film makers can dream up. The story itself is a well worn routine we’ve seen many times before. There is however always a market for the horror movie and fans of the genre may well enjoy it.