Beware the Outdoors
|The Ritual (2017)
Directed by David Bruckner
I picked this off of Netflix’s horror list just because. The Ritual starts off as a pretty decent “lost in the woods” movie with a slight psychological twist. Four friends take a memorial trip to hike King’s Trail in Sweden. A short-cut takes them deep into the woods and into the sway of the Jötunn and its followers. This movie does for tall, straight trees what The Texas Chainsaw Massacre did for the rev of a two-stroke engine.
|“The Wendigo” by Algernon Blackwood
I read “Dark Warm Heart” by Rich Larson a couple of weeks ago and was reminded of the wendigo and Blackwood’s contribution to the myth. I figured it would be a great accompaniment to The Ritual. And it is. The horror is as quiet as the wind through the trees. I think I can see some of ETA Hoffmann’s influence as Defago chants about his burning feet, and Blackwood’s influence in John Carpenter’s The Thing as “men” huddle around the campfire.
Directed by André Øvredal
The wendigo and jotunn led me, of course, to trolls. Trollhunter is a Norwegian found footage film. It isn’t entirely horror and is sometimes slightly on the comedic side. There is a certain ridiculousness to the Troll Security Service, a sort of wildlife control society for trolls, and the film is aware of that. A few moments are pretty tense though. I did really like that the “found footage” is appropriately open-ended and does lack a narrative beat or two.