Continuing on the trend of fantastic horror movies from the last year, I bring you the delightful little gem that is The Ritual. It’s a Netflix-exclusive film that’s easily accessible to almost everyone in the world, so no excuses here. I’m telling you Netflix has been doing a great job with a lot of these horror offerings lately. Last year I wrote about both of the Stephen King adaptations they released for October (Gerald’s Game and 1922). This year I have a few more of their offerings in store. The first one is The Ritual. The Ritual is one of those films that seems so simple and to the point, that it’s refreshing. Bunch of guys hiking in the woods decide to take the never-a-good-idea shortcut through an uncharted area of the forest. Yep, bad shit happens. But through all the simplicity on the surface, when the mysterious goings-on begin to reveal themselves, you quickly realize there’s a lot more to this little ditty than meets the eye. It isn’t quite as simplistic as previously thought, and it goes to a few places that feel so original and unique that you can’t help but smile. One of the things that was really refreshing for me was the use of location. All the hiking and camping takes place in northern Sweden, as part of honoring the wish of one of their late friends. Now, it’s not just the simple visuals of the lush location that makes this so unique and fun. It’s the story and mythology that goes along with it. It gives nothing away to say that some kind of presence is with them in the woods, as it’s in all the marketing materials. But let me just tell you that when it’s revealed what that presence actually is, it’s SO fulfilling. The design is incredible. The backstory is so rich. I just effing loved it. The acting is great across the board. They scares are on point — so many unnervingly suspenseful sequences. The Ritual definitely goes to many places I guarantee you haven’t seen before. Add to that some great character work amongst the friends themselves and you’ve got a full film. I just loved it. Simple and complex at the same time, moody and gorgeous, and scary as Hell.