Ritual (2001)
By: Devon B. on July 6, 2009  | 
Walt Disney (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. English (FHI) Subtitles. 99 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Avi Nesher
Starring: Jennifer Grey, Craig Sheffer, Daniel Lapaine, Kristen Wilson, Gabriel Casseus, Tim Curry
Screenplay: Rob Cohen, Avi Nesher
Country: USA
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When the sometimes amusing, sometimes annoying Tales From the Crypt series branched out into feature films, I was initially sceptical. However, I thoroughly enjoyed Demon Knight, a fun bit of campy splatter. With boobies. I wasn't impressed with Bordello of Blood, but thought some of that might be because Dennis Miller seemed to have forgotten to be funny. At least there were boobies. I was unaware that the Crypt series had continued on with Ritual, but figured it should be at least watchable. Plus, KNB were involved, which I took as a positive sign, so clearly I'd already forgotten Buried Alive.

It becomes very clear in the first scene, with bikinied women hanging out with the Cryptkeeper as he introduces the film, that Ritual is much lower budget than its predecessors. The Cryptkeeper has affected a Rasta accent for this intro, but that's not that bizarre given the story is set in Jamaica. What is bizarre is that his mouth just ain't workin' right. Also, the Keeper doesn't do a wrap around, just this intro, though you should stay tuned after the credits if you want more of him.

The film is "based on" I Walked With a Zombie, so I guess it's technically a remake. I'm sure I saw the original film years ago, but can't remember enough to give an adequate comparison, so I'm evaluating this story on its own merits.

A doctor has been watching too many episodes of House and takes a huge risk based on a hunch. She gets her medical license suspended and ends up on hard times. She finds a job in Jamaica that doesn't require a license, which involves looking after a rich dude's sick brother. Unfortunately for her the ailment goes a bit beyond normal medical issues. Seems some bad voodoo is going down, and there's a "big man" to blame. If you haven't figured out who that is well before the unmasking you're probably the type surprised at the end of a Scooby Doo episode.

The acting in Ritual is not always as good as the acting in previous Tales From the Crypt movies, which is pretty amazing considering Dennis Miller's performance in Bordello. Even Tim Curry, a man so well suited for a comic book style movie he may as well be rendered in ink and paint, comes off forced because he doesn't have much to work with in Ritual. Other actors are laboured with Jamaican stereotypes that're so bad that it's hard to tell if they're just poor thespians or if the writing is also to blame. Things get ridiculously tongue in cheek, like a man literally melting from heat who pauses to take his temperature, but most of the humour fails, with many attempted "funny" lines flopping.

The problems aren't just to do with the cast and script, the director and FX crew have a lot to answer for as well. The CG is REALLY bad. I mean, really, really, REALLY bad. I'll grant the FX crew maybe didn't have much budget, but even so, I've seen low budget Thai movies with better CG than this. There is a weird tendency towards annoying slow motion, and, most distressing, there are lots of bizarre moments with characters talking over each other. I'm not sure if this is because of a lack of funds for retakes, staging, or rehearsal, but it makes the film feel like a jumbled mess.

At least there is some nice nudity, and, while she keeps her top on, the lead must've been cold through most of the filming, if you catch my drift.
The film has some grain and spots, and isn't as clean a print as I was expecting. The lighting department also clearly had trouble rigging the lights for the various skin pigments, particularly if people of different hues were in the same scene.
The audio is 5.1, but aside from surround sound fire, not much is made of the mix. There's also some bad ADR.
Extra Features
With this fantastic movie, wanting extras would just be greedy.
The Verdict
Pointless and boring. Pointless is fine from Tales but boring is a no go.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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