Director: Joko Anwar
Screenplay: Joko Anwar
Starring: Rio Dewanto, Hannah Al Rashid, Izzi Isman, Aridh Tritama
Producer: Sheila Timothy
Running Time: 87 min
BBFC Certificate: TBC
Centre Parcs meets the Mutilator in a delightfully sordid amnesia survival petualangan.
Hang on…is that David Attenborough leaping through the undergrowth in search of gorillas, am I watching National Geographic footage? No… it’s some guy with no contacts on his mobile, who can’t remember his name and has decided the best course of action is to career through the woods screaming frantically for help.
Ah, it looks like he’s okay, I think he’s in Centre Parcs, he’s found a delightful log cabin and it even has a nice shiny get-away car parked on the drive. Err… my mistake, everything is not alright, it’s not such an agreeable cabin in the wood. There’s a video camera inside with a “press play” note attached and a very nasty video to watch. Horror stricken by the sickening snuff recording on offer, he’s off, hurtling across the wood in a blind panic. Now he’s found his wallet, with a few clues to his identity, discovering his name is John Evans (Rio Dewanto), maybe this will calm his shredded nerves. No…once again he decides the best plan is to hurtle about panicking, throwing up and to finish off, whacks his head on a tree before ending up back at the cabin in the forest.
On returning to the loathsome lodge, John has the brilliant idea of hiding in a wooden trunk so that he can be locked in and set on fire by an unknown assailant. Well, he manages to escape and is soon bounding about in the woods again with no particular place to go. This time John is armed with a lantern so he can be easily spotted and there’s a maniac on the loose, lurking in the vegetation and trying their very best to dispatch John.
Adding to the mystery a couple of kids are hiding-out in the undergrowth, are they his kids? We realise a dead woman in the house of horrors is his wife, when he covers her lifeless body in a blanket. He finds a recording and discovers he was on holiday with his family in the lodge, meanwhile John’s unknown assailant is closing in for the kill. The mad man stalks him, shooting him with an arrow, amidst much screaming, John pulls the arrow from his arm, finally he has been pushed too far. John’s scampers around, waving his give-away lantern and eventually decides to fight back, but all he manages to do is to impale his own daughter and machete his son in the neck.
Distraught John finds a beeping alarm clock buried in the earth and uncovers a dead man with “Go back to the beginning” cut into his chest. John goes back and digs in the grave he woke up in, to find a box with “The truth” written on it and 2 syringes inside. He injects himself…and we are soon to find out what the hell is going on.
This beautifully filmed flick was shot in just nine days by Joko, director of “The Forbidden Door”. Ritual is well thought out and although it’s been done before, I like the idea that John can get through to the emergency services but it’s no help as he doesn’t know who or where he is. It’s probably what it would really be like, as you try to explain your desperate situation to an indifferent operator at the end of their shift. Professional cinematography combined with remarkable acting makes for a completely believable experience. I am grateful that the film was not as dark and nefarious as the decidedly bleak beginning signalled.
A pretty faultless exploit, although, I felt the throwing up scenes, needed a little fine tuning, the old hosepipe taped to the side of the head is funny in comedy horror but a more serious film such as this would gain from more authentic gut retching. The writers manage to make all the hurtling around in the woods enjoyable while building tension and expressing terror through body language, in this cavorting twister. There’s plenty of disturbing imagery to keep you entertained, including graphic violence topped off with children-in-jeopardy, layered with suspense, creepy schocks and a puzzle to solve, it’s a sort of evil "Professor Layton".
Ritual will feature new UK artwork and will be released by the Asian horror label Terror Cotta on DVD on 16th May 2016. The screener I reviewed was excellent audio and visual quality getting straight to the action without any extras.