Review-After Dark Films is back and this time they are giving us a little horror gem, that I will say right now is really worth your time. Ritual is the first film from director Mickey Keating and right from the get-go you can tell his style really is unique. As you can expect from the title, this film is going to be about the sadistic world of satanic killing. What you do not expect is everything else that this film will throw at you. The film centers around a female named Lovely. Lovely is a throwback to 50â€™s noir women, the ones who are estranged from their lovers until the situations calls for them to be reunited. While they were separated it seems like Lovely met another man, innocent enough at first till the man gets a little rough on her and she takes matters into her own hands. After she stabs this guy to death, she calls her estranged lover Tom to come and help her get out of his situation. The first twenty or so minutes of this film builds around the couple trying to co-exist and how to handle the situation of a dead body. When Tom goes to the dead guyâ€™s car, is when the film takes a turn. He discovers in the trunk a bowling bag with no ball and a video camera. Lovely and Tom proceed to watch the tape inside the camera, then they discover that the guy they killed is part of a cult who kill innocent people in their rituals. Not too long after that Lovely discovers that this chance meeting was not so chance, as they have planned for her to be the next sacrifice. This film was quite the discovery. Going into it, I was sort of worried because these After Dark Originals have yet to live up to the previous After Dark Horrorfest films. This film felt like Vacancy to me, as the majority of the suspense happened inside their motel room. The characters in this film were smart and would do what most of us would do in these situations. The film keeps your attention with such a methodical pace and such a mystery as to what can happen next. This film did not follow the horror film rules because it threw us into so many directions that by the end of the film we were left trying to digest it all. The negative to me to this film is that some scenes just felt un-necessary to a point. Like the driving scene between the two guys, it has a good payoff but I felt the dialogue was not really belonging in the film. It just felt like a time out, or a breath before trying to finish the film. There is no backstory as to why the rituals were taking place or who the people were. Also, we do not know what happened to the lovers to make them estranged, but this is horror and this film felt like less info is better. The film used flashbacks almost like snapshots in a scrapbook; they made the scenes matter towards us investing in the characters and their well being. This is definitely a film for horror fans, from the ritual masks and how they looked in certain scenes to the peril our heroes find themselves in this is what fans watch horror for. I would say if you are a fan of After Dark and fell off the wagon after the first Original did not strike a hit with you, you may want to jump back on to check this one out.
8 out of 10