There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
2019 Netflix Halloween Countdown
For my third annual Netflix Halloween Countdown, I will once again be watching and reviewing some of the spooky, scary, gory, chilling, and horror-themed movies on Netflix. With each review, I will be including an up-to-date table that ranks these movies from best to worst. If you are looking to get in the Halloween spirit, by watching some Halloween-style movies, then these articles are for you!
When a group of friends reunite for a night of drinking and hanging out, a tragic event occurs that devastates the group and leaves Luke (Rafe Spall) with an incredible amount of guilt. After the tragedy, the group plans a trip to hike the mountains in the Scandinavian wilderness (a trip that one of the group members has always wanted to do). Once there, they find themselves out late, so they decide to hike off the standard path to make the journey back shorter. They would soon discover that the forest is not be so easy to navigate without the path to guide them.
Once the group veers off from the designated path, they start feeling like they are being watched. They stumble upon a mysterious abandoned house that, upon seeing it, none of their lives will ever be the same again. They start seeing and experiencing things that they cannot explain. Someone or some thing is in this forest. Whatever it is, it is playing with them, and it is hunting them. The group has to stick together and remain calm if they have any hope of getting out of this forest alive and getting back to their ordinary lives.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
Hatin' on Luke (-4pts)
The Friends (+5pts)
The Climax (-3pts)
The Horror (+5pts)
The Monster (-4pts)
Pro: Luke (+8pts)
I was absolutely fascinated by this character. We all like to imagine that we would act honorably and bravely when faced with danger. Everyone is either a fight or flight kind of person and there is no way of truly knowing what you are until you are faced with danger. Everyone likes to imagine that they are brave but not everyone is. Luke has to deal with the difficult realization that he has more of a flight tendency. Throughout this movie Luke struggles with his cowardice as well as the ramifications of his inaction.
He has to deal with the guilt of what happened that tragic night and it was very compelling to watch. Rafe Spall did a fantastic job in this role, and was able to effectively convey this character’s incredible amount of guilt and pain. The guy screwed up and it was very compelling to see him trying to live with what he had done (or did not do), while also dealing with the extreme situation that him and his friends have found themselves in. It was a compelling character story and Rafe Spall did a great job of getting viewers invested in it.
Con: Hatin' on Luke (-4pts)
I liked the character development of Luke, but one of Luke’s friends, Dom (Sam Troughton), is constantly giving Luke a hard time over what Luke was doing during the tragedy. I am all for having tension between two characters over a shared tragic event, but I felt like the contempt that Dom felt towards Luke was a bit unjustified and exaggerated. It would have been far more effective if the contempt was subtle and messed with Luke psychologically. Instead, Dom was confrontational which made Luke defensive and angry.
This movie is at its best when Luke is in his own head, dealing with his own issues, and when the group is in the woods trying to survive whatever is hunting them. What the confrontational behavior of Dom ended up doing, was make Dom feel unreasonable. Viewers will think Luke is a coward, but will understand his pain. Dom’s behavior will make audiences lean more towards siding with Luke rather than letting viewers dwell in Luke’s pain and guilt. This movie had a great character story, but the whole Dom storyline felt like a distraction from the movie’s stronger aspects.
Pro: The Friends (+5pts)
This story works so well because of the group of guys in it. These characters are friends, the setup of the film tells us this, but the actors have to make the viewers believe it. In The Ritual, the actors succeeded in doing so. All the actors gave decent performances, especially Rafe Spall, but the reason the friendship worked this well was because of the strong chemistry between all of the actors.
As a viewer I totally bought into the relationship between these characters. I believed that they have been friends for a very long time, and I believed that their friendships have had ups and downs. This movie had a fascinating character story and decent horror, but it is the realistic friendship that will keep viewers watching. Too many movies give audiences boring and unbelievable relationships. The friendship in this movie will be entertaining to viewers because of how realistic it was. This makes it easy for the viewer to inject themselves into this group and follow them on this horrific journey.
Con: The Climax (-3pts)
I was completely on board with this movie right up until the story’s climax. That is not to say that the climax was “bad”, but it just did not fit the rest of the story. I am going to stay deliberately vague so that I do not give anything away. The rising action of this movie consists of a group of friends being toyed with and hunted by something very powerful.
Shortly before the story’s climax, Luke stumbles upon something that sends the story in a very different direction. Rather than focus on the groups survival in the forest (which I was very invested in), at the beginning of the third act, Luke discovers something else in the forest. It sends the plot in a completely different direction that simply was not what the rest of the rising action felt like it was building towards. The result was that the plot lost a bit of momentum as it was transitioning towards the climax of the story.
Pro: The Horror (+5pts)
The horror in this movie was not incredibly intense, but it was decent. The horror focuses on the unknown monster. Neither the characters nor the viewer know what is out there, but they know something is out there, and they know that it is extremely dangerous. The filmmakers effectively convey the sense of helplessness that the main characters are experiencing. These characters are being hunted by something powerful that uses fear as a tactic. Are there jump scares? Sure, but the filmmakers did a good job of sucking the viewer into the situation and giving them a sense of the horror that these characters are experiencing.
Con: The Monster (-4pts)
When the monster was finally revealed, I found it to be almost comical. Yes, the thing had an intimidating presence, as it was visually powerful. Unfortunately, the whole design looked too ridiculous for me to take it seriously. The think looked powerful, but it looked like it was designed by a kindergartener. I honestly do not know if the concept was based on any lore, but if it was, the filmmakers should have taken some liberties here, because this thing looked dumb.
Grade: B- (82pts)
The Ritual had a few issues, but I still found myself enjoying it. The climax takes the story in a very different direction and the monster looked absolutely ridiculous (to an almost comical extent). The movie’s strengths were with its characters. The group of actors are believable as longtime friends which made it easy to get invested in the story.
On top of all that, the filmmakers had a compelling character story with Luke. This character feels a terrible amount of guilt and it messes with the character throughout this movie. The horror was decent but the compelling characters made it so much more entertaining than it should have been. The Ritual was a decent movie, but certainly one of the best horror movies on Netflix.
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Train to Busan
In the Tall Grass
Hold the Dark
Would You Rather
The Eyes of My Mother
Meet the Blacks
The Open House
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House