A Deliverance knock-off that outdoes its inspiration—at least for the first half. A group of doctors travel into the Canadian wilderness planning to hike out over several days. Where Deliverance showcased the river’s beauty and power, Rituals revels in the land’s brutality. The cinematography finds majesty in savagery as the doctors endure jagged rocks, boggy swamps, and flies. Tons of flies. These early sequences pay off when the doctors awake the first morning to find their boots missing. This proves the first incursion by an unseen assailant determined to torture and kill the group.
As the film unfolds, the incidents escalate and the doctors dwindle. The location photography remains majestic as the film reaches peak form with a crackerjack river crossing sequence.
But then the film loses steam. The script hints at a trap plot, which proves intriguing but never materializes. The antagonist’s reveal underwhelms. The theme of doctors playing God peters out as the film stumbles toward a conclusion that fails to match the aforementioned river crossing’s suspense. Disappointing given the outstanding first half.
- Scorpion Releasing, 2021↩