ASIAN FILM - Review
15:00 - 6th August 2016, by NEO Staff

Ritual

Joko Anwar’s low-budget survival horror begins as an unnamed man drags himself from a shallow grave, deep in the heart of the Indonesian rainforest. With no memory of who he is or how he got there, he becomes embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse with an unseen pursuer, intent on preventing him from reuniting with his missing family, or leaving the forest alive.

A hugely enjoyable watch, Ritual’s blend of old-school, practical special effects and twist-filled plot elevate the film beyond its limited production values. More thriller than horror, much of its appeal comes from a riveting central performance by Rio Dewanto, whose charismatic screen time is particularly impressive given that he rarely has the chance to share it with anyone else.

While the first hour or so plays out much as you would expect within the genre, it’s with the revelation that kicks off the film’s final third that Ritual becomes compulsive viewing. It builds to a conclusion that provokes as many questions as it answers, but which nonetheless keeps you guessing (and reeling) until the credits roll.

Ritual’s particular brand of gruesome violence will not be to everybody’s tastes and certainly isn’t for the squeamish. However, it isn’t so much the moments of outright violence as Anwar’s deft direction that create the film’s underlying suspense. Get past the gore, and there’s a thoroughly entertaining thriller waiting to be seen.

Worth watching for the final third alone, Ritual is a great addition to any Asian horror fan’s collection.
SCORE: 4/5
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