The Ritual (2017 film)

The Ritual is a 2017 British horror film directed by David Bruckner and written by Joe Barton. It stars Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, and Sam Troughton. The film is based on the 2011 novel The Ritual by Adam Nevill.

The Ritual
The Ritual UK poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Bruckner
Screenplay byJoe Barton
Based onThe Ritual
by Adam Nevill
Produced by
CinematographyAndrew Shulkind
Edited byMark Towns
Music byBen Lovett
Distributed by
  • Entertainment One (United Kingdom)
  • Netflix (International)
Release dates
  • 8 September 2017 (2017-09-08) (TIFF)
  • 13 October 2017 (2017-10-13) (UK)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$1.3–1.6 million[1][2]


Five friends—Phil, Dom, Hutch, Luke, and Rob—meet at a pub and discuss plans for a group holiday. Rob suggests hiking in Sweden, but gets rebuffed. Afterward, Luke and Rob leave to purchase alcohol, but interrupt a robbery in progress. Luke hides while the thieves harass Rob for his valuables. Torn with indecision over how to intervene, Luke continues to hide, and the thieves kill Rob for not giving them his wedding ring.

Six months later, the remaining four embark on a hiking trip along the Kungsleden in northern Sweden in Rob's memory. A day later, Dom injures his knee. Hutch suggests they cut through the forest rather than use the longer marked trail in the hopes of sparing Dom further suffering. Upon entering the forest, however, the group encounters strange phenomena, including a gutted elk hanging from several branches and strange symbols carved in the trees. As night falls, a torrential rainstorm forces them to find shelter. They come upon an abandoned cabin, so they break in and stay for the night. Inside, they find necklaces bearing similar symbols and a statue made of twigs of a decapitated human torso with antlers for hands. During the night, Luke has a nightmare about the robbery. The next morning, the group awake to find Luke's chest bleeding from strange puncture wounds and a naked Phil praying to the statue, all of them having had nightmares. Disturbed by their unconscious actions, the group tries to find a way out. While discerning their location, Luke spots a large figure amongst the trees, but Dom doubts him. In their ensuing argument, Dom calls Luke a coward for letting Rob die to save himself.

Later that night, Luke is having another nightmare about the robbery, and is awakened by Phil's screams. He comes out of his tent and finds Hutch's tent empty and partially collapsed. The remaining three men rush deeper into the woods to search for him, but by dawn, they realize that they are lost and unable to locate their campsite. While continuing their search without their supplies, they find Hutch gutted and impaled on tree branches. After giving him an impromptu burial, they continue on. Later, Phil is suddenly dragged away by an unseen creature. Despite realizing the creature has been stalking them the entire time, Luke and Dom have little choice but to make a run for it. As the creature gives chase, they find a torch-lined path leading to a small settlement and rush into a cottage to hide. After they get inside they are knocked unconscious.

When they awake, they find themselves restrained in a cellar. An elderly woman enters and inspects Luke's chest wounds, revealing she bears a similar marking on her chest. On her way out, she orders two men to take Dom upstairs. A younger woman enters and explains that preparations are being made for a sacrifice. Sometime later, a beaten Dom is returned to the basement. He tells Luke that he is to be sacrificed to the creature, urging him to escape and destroy the village before he too is sacrificed. Desperate to escape, Luke breaks his thumb and partially frees himself from his restraints as Dom is tied up outside by the townsfolk. Amidst the ritual, Dom has a vision of his wife emerging from the forest, not realizing it is the creature until right before it picks him up and impales him on a nearby tree. Some time later, the young woman comes back. When Luke asks about the creature, she explains that it is a Jötunn, an ancient god-like entity and an offspring of Loki that the cult provides sacrifices to in return for immortality. Luke has been chosen and is to either worship it or be sacrificed.

After she leaves, Luke fully frees himself and ventures upstairs. Armed with a torch, he finds a twisted congregation of mummified worshipers that begin to move and sets them alight, burning the cabin and attracting the Jötunn. It picks up the young woman. Luke finds a hunting rifle and heads downstairs, running into and killing a follower before taking another man's axe. The enraged Jötunn kills the young woman while Luke shoots at it and escapes. It pursues him, crippling his mind with hallucinations of Rob's death before catching and forcing him to his knees, offering him a chance to submit. Luke refuses before striking it with the axe, briefly incapacitating it. Following hallucinatory sign-posts and rays of sunlight, he emerges in an open field. Unable to leave the forest, the Jötunn roars in anger while Luke shouts back in triumph before heading towards a paved road that shows an approaching car.



The film was shot on location in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania.[3]

The film's score was composed by David Bruckner's long-time friend and frequent collaborator, Ben Lovett. Lovett also scored Bruckner's 2007 film The Signal and 2020's The Night House.[4]


The Ritual premiered in September 2017 at the Toronto International Film Festival, where its international distribution rights were sold to Netflix for $4.75 million.[5] The film was theatrically released in the United Kingdom by eOne Films on 13 October 2017 and grossed over $1 million during its run.[1] It was later released to Netflix on 9 February 2018.[6]

Critical receptionEdit

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 73% based on 86 reviews, and an average rating of 6.1/10. The website's critical consensus states: "Director David Bruckner makes evocative use of the Scandinavian setting and a dedicated cast to deliver a handsome — if familiar — horror story."[7] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[8] Katie Walsh of the Los Angeles Times praised the film and said that it was "Efficient and highly effective in its style, relying on sound, creepy production design, and the men's own fear and misjudgments to create the sense of pervasive doom."[9] writer Simon Abrams scored the film a 2/4, saying "The most disappointing kind of bad horror movie: the kind that's too smart to be this dumb."[10] Kyle Kohner of The Playlist gave the film a negative review, saying "David Bruckner had all the ingredients for a horror masterpiece - deceptively scenic wilderness shots, great character camaraderie, dreadful atmosphere/setting- but The Ritual winds up a missed opportunity."[11]


  1. ^ a b "The Ritual (2017) – Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  2. ^ "The Ritual". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  3. ^ "Horror film the Ritual features Southwick actor".
  4. ^ Reeves, Rachel (7 February 2020). "[Exclusive Interview] Composer Ben Lovett On THE NIGHT HOUSE, David Bruckner and His Deep Cut Connection to Alkaline Trio". Nightmare on Film Street. Retrieved 6 August 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Toronto: Horror Film 'The Ritual' Sells to Netflix for $4.75 Million (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  6. ^ "THE RITUAL Heading to Netflix This February". Nightmare on Film Street. 13 January 2018. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  7. ^ "The Ritual (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  8. ^ "The Ritual Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  9. ^ Walsh, Katie (8 February 2018). "Primal and visceral horror haunts 'The Ritual'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  10. ^ Abrams, Simon. "The Ritual Movie Review & Film Summary (2018) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  11. ^ "'The Ritual' Conjures Up Familiar, Forgettable Horror [Review]". The Playlist. 13 February 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.

External linksEdit