The Ritual (2017 film)

The Ritual is a 2017 British supernatural horror film directed by David Bruckner, written by Joe Barton, and starring Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, and Sam Troughton.[3] The film is based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Adam Nevill.

The Ritual
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Bruckner
Produced byJonathan Cavendish
Richard Holmes
Screenplay byJoe Barton
Based onThe Ritual
by Adam Nevill
StarringRafe Spall
Arsher Ali
Robert James-Collier
Sam Troughton
Music byBen Lovett
CinematographyAndrew Shulkind
Edited byMark Towns
Distributed byeOne Films (UK)
Netflix (International)
Release date
  • 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 university friends--Phil, Dom, Hutch, Luke, and Rob--meet at a pub and discuss plans for a group trip. Rob suggests hiking in Sweden, but is quickly shot down by the others. Afterward, Luke and Rob enter a shop and interrupt a robbery in progress. Luke hides, while Rob is almost frozen with fear as the thieves start antagonizing him. Luke nearly intervenes, but decides against it. Rob gets killed for non-compliance.

Six months later, in honor of Rob, the remaining four embark on a hiking trip along the Kungsleden in northern Sweden. When Dom injures his knee, Hutch decides they should cut through the forest instead of using the trail to spare him. Upon entering, the group encounters strange phenomena, including a gutted elk hanging from some branches and strange symbols carved in the trees. As night falls, a torrential rainstorm forces the group to find shelter. They come upon an abandoned cabin and decide to break in and stay overnight. Inside, they find necklaces bearing similar symbols and a wooden statuette of a decapitated human torso with antlers for hands. Upon waking the next morning, the group find that Luke had sustained strange puncture wounds on his chest and Phil praying to the effigy. Weirded out, the group try to find a way out. While discerning their location, Luke spots a large figure, but Dom doubts him. In their ensuing argument, Dom blames Luke for Rob's death; calling him a coward for allowing Rob to die.

Later that night, Luke's awakened by Hutch's screams. Discovering Hutch's tent is empty, the remaining three rush deeper into the woods to find him. By dawn, they realize that they're lost and can't find their campsite. While continuing their search without their supplies, they find Hutch eviscerated and impaled on tree branches. After giving him an impromptu burial, Phil is suddenly dragged away by an unseen creature. Luke and Dom run off, but the creature gives chase. They pass Phil's body near a path of lit torches leading to a small village. They hide in the first building they see, only to be knocked unconscious.

When they awaken, they find themselves restrained in a basement. An elderly woman enters and inspects Luke's puncture marks; revealing she bears a similar pattern. On her way out, she orders two men to take Dom to the upper floor. A younger woman enters and explains that preparations are being made for a sacrifice. Sometime later, a beaten and bloodied Dom is escorted back to the basement. He tells Luke that he's to serve as a sacrifice to the creature, urging him to find a way out and destroy the village before he's taken outside. As night falls, Dom has a vision of his wife emerging from the trees, not realizing it's the creature until it impales him on a nearby tree. Desperate to escape, Luke partially frees himself, but is interrupted by the young woman. When he asks about the creature, she explains that it is a Jötunn, a god-like figure from Scandinavian mythology which her cult provide sacrifices to in return for immortality. Luke is to either submit to it or be killed.

After she leaves, Luke fully breaks free and ventures to the upper floor. Armed with a torch and an axe, he finds a twisted congregation of mummified worshippers. He sets the worshippers alight, attracting the Jötunn. Enraged, the creature kills the young woman while Luke escapes, though not before he takes a shot at it. The Jötunn pursues him, crippling his mind with hallucinations before catching him and forcing him to his knees, offering him a chance to submit. Luke strikes the creature with the axe, briefly incapacitating it. Following rays of sunlight, he emerges in an open field. Unable to leave the forest, the Jötunn roars at him in anger while Luke screams back in triumph before heading towards a paved road.


Release and reception

The film premiered in September 2017 at the Toronto International Film Festival, where its international distribution rights were sold to Netflix for $4.75 million.[4] 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.[5]

Critical reception

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."[6] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[7]

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 misjudgment to create the sense of pervasive doom."[8] 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."[9] 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."[10]


  1. "The Ritual (2017) – Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  2. "The Ritual". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  3. "'The Ritual' Review: David Bruckner Shows Promise in Familiar Horror Tale | TIFF 2017". Collider. 10 September 2017.
  4. "Toronto: Horror Film 'The Ritual' Sells to Netflix for $4.75 Million (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  5. "THE RITUAL Heading to Netflix This February | Nightmare on Film Street". Nightmare on Film Street. 13 January 2018. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  6. "The Ritual (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  7. "The Ritual Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  8. Walsh, Katie. "Primal and visceral horror haunts 'The Ritual'". Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  9. Abrams, Simon. "The Ritual Movie Review & Film Summary (2018) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  10. "'The Ritual' Conjures Up Familiar, Forgettable Horror [Review]". The Playlist. 13 February 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
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