The word “originality” doesn’t spring to mind watching this humdrum affair, although some style is trying hard to show itself.

While I found lots to like about Mickey Keating’s filmmaking style, in this, his second horror, Ritual, the film was somewhat lacking in the writing department. I loved the 50’s look and feel the film began and ended with and it had me fooled into thinking I was about to see something a bit out of the ordinary but was soon let down as the tale began to unfold. Ritual is being released on the After Dark Films label and I’ve found one or two gems from them on occasion with Dark Circles the most recent one that comes to mind, but it’s mostly a hit and miss affair with their low-budget horror selection.

Written & Directed by
Mickey Keating
Derek Phillips, Larry Fessenden, Dean Cates
Release Date
31 December 2013
Ed’s Grade: C

Ritual begins by showing us a hot-looking gal with a 50’s hairdo and two-piece bathing costume, relaxing on a beach when she’s approached by a man we never get to see, only hear. They chat amiably and we learn her name is Lovely. The next thing we know, Lovely is covered in blood in a motel room and screaming over the phone telling Tom to come and help her. When Tom arrives he finds a man on the floor who’s been stabbed to death by his estranged wife and she’s managed to drag him into her nightmare.

Tom eventually decides to help his wayward wife and when he searches the dead mans car, finds a video camera then returns to the room. They watch what’s on the tape and to their horror witness a young woman being murdered by a group of men wearing skull masks, carrying out some sort of ritualistic sacrifice. It soon dawns on them Lovely was their next intended victim. They quickly hightail it and before long Tom realises the lighter bearing his full name is still in the room so now they must return, but they soon run into the group of men who begin to terrorize them.

Writer/director Keating, uses some nice camera technique and has clearly put some effort into the production side of things, but the story that started out promising just turned into another “been there, done that” kind of deal that I found to be most deflating, and was something we’ve all seen many times before. If you’re into horror and tend to watch a lot of them then I doubt you’ll get a lot out of Ritual, however, it is worth seeing for the acting and stylish touches that highlight this drab story. I would like to see if the director can do something with a decent script behind him this time, as I think he might have plenty to offer with some good material and could be worth keeping an eye on in future.

Review by Ed Blackadder, Lead Entertainment Writer