Horror, Thriller, Zombies

Ritual (2002)

0 Comments 30 December 2012

Studio: Echo Bridge Entertainment/ MiramaxRitual Cover

DVD Release: May 2, 2006 (USA)

Blu Ray Release: December 4, 2012

Director: Avi Nesher

R

Review by James Klein

Ritual is an odd film. This was originally going to be the third film released by Universal in the Tales From the Crypt movie series but after 1996’s underrated Bordello of Blood being such a box office bomb, the movie was shelved for a few years. When it was dusted off for a DVD release, all references of Tales From the Crypt were taken out. Now, Echo Bridge has released the original version of Ritual (although the original title was Tales From the Crypt Presents Ritual) with the cackling Crypt Keeper making his introduction dressed like a Jamaican and doing a rather bad and almost offensive accent. While this opening was cheesy and silly, at least the movie held my interest. Unfortunately Ritual falls in a long line of most awful direct to DVD horror films.

The opening prologue of Ritual does start off promising as a scientist and his assistant (who shows off her breasts right away, thus adding to the enjoyment of this opening) are killed off in a rather gruesome way as they were planning on finding out the reasoning of a young man’s sudden illness. In a scene that shocked me, a man slowly burns to death from the inside of his body, brought on by a voodoo curse. The sequence, while brief, has some amazing bladder and gore effects that made me feel like I was watching a movie from the 1980’s. I literally wanted to leap up from my chair and applaud the movie for daring to use real special effects which is sorely missing in most genre films. However, this was the last moment I wanted to clap during the film.

Once the prologue is finished, the viewer is stuck with a rather lame and boring remake of the 1943 movie I Walked With a Zombie. While I was never a huge fan of that film, I appreciated its style and atmosphere which Ritual lacks. Ritual feels more like a rip-off of Serpent and the Rainbow, a rather forgettable late 80’s Wes Craven film about voodoo. In Ritual, Jennifer Grey (looking extremely beautiful now that her schnoz is smaller) plays Dr. Alice Dodgson, whose practice has been suspended for two years after the death of a child under her care. Looking for a job, she finds one in Jamaica where she is to care for of a rich plantation owner’s brother who seems to be suffering from hallucinations. Eventually and after several shock moments and dream sequences, we find out that he is suffering from a voodoo curse, brought on by his older brother (Craig Sheffer, always playing an over the top villain) who wants to sell the plantation which his brother doesn’t want any part of doing.

Ritual tries to be suspenseful and mysterious but after several “jump” scares and sequences that don’t make much sense, the movie just simply becomes downright boring. How many times are we going to watch people dancing around and chanting? Ohhh, someone is looking through a microscope now! Wow, looks like we have another dream sequence to give the viewer a “jump” scare!

What drove me really crazy was the odd editing. Characters will be talking and suddenly someone is talking over them but done thru some strange cutaway. This happens several times in the movie and one can’t tell if some footage was cut out or if someone just doesn’t know how to edit. The dialog was constantly cutting characters off to the point where I couldn’t even concentrate as to what was going on. While the opening was a lot of fun, the rest of the film tries to build suspense by being subtle but the actors are so over the top in their performances, it doesn’t make sense. In one sequence, everyone is screaming and swearing at one another which comes out of nowhere. With all of the actors doing these God awful facial expressions while shouting, I didn’t know if I should groan or start laughing.

I will say the blu ray by EchoBridge does look pretty good. The picture is clear and aside from some overly red hues, I didn’t notice anything distracting about the picture or even the sound. The movie comes with zero special features, not even a trailer. I guess that’s fine since I don’t think I would care to even know or hear about the making of this bore-fest.

Sure, this is a Tales From the Crypt film (wait after the credits if you want to see “outtakes” of the Crypt Keeper blowing his lines and even farting) and fans may be interested in seeing it because so. But aside from the enjoyable opening, the movie is just another cheap horror film that will find itself in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart by next month.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

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