The recently released “The Ritual” is a monster movie, with the creature springing forth from ancient Norse mythology. But it is more than that. The level of performance by a quartet of actors is a prime cut above standard scary flick fare. And there is actually a point to the proceedings beyond doom, gloom and ripping apart human flesh-a message of redemption in struggling to overcome one’s most incapacitating foibles (guilt, arrogance, fear and loneliness are all explored) that resonates straight through to the end of “The Ritual”. At times subtle, at times stark, it manages to consistently creep through the chaos with both clarity and resonance.
This is hardly a common component across the bulk of the genre. And it is in no small part a tribute to the vision and sensibility of Director David Bruckner. When I spoke with Bruckner recently he confirmed that, while horror is his thing, he believes that that which scares us on screen is a representation of what haunts and frightens us in our actual lives.
I also talked with the director about the work of Cinematographer Andrew Shulkind, who certainly deserves a considerable share of the credit for the overall impact of “The Ritual”. Shulkind’s keen eye consistently captures scenes and shots that practically serve as additional characters in the film. Bruckner shared that he and Shulkind teamed up to “work around the edges” of the action to deftly reveal dynamics and motivations between the characters not expressly brought to bear.
Bruckner directed one of the segments of 2015’s multi-plotted “Southbound”, of which I am not a fan. That said, here, at least in one guy’s opinion, is a talent who is both growing and maturing as an artist. “The Ritual” operates in an entirely new league of depth and sure-footedness. It is intriguing to see where Bruckner’s career behind the lens takes him from here.
Indications are that it is a future progressing with promise “northbound”.