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Rituals is a gripping survival horror movie of 1977. An American Canadian production directed by Peter Carter, the film features seasoned actors Hal Holbrook, Lawrence Dane, and Robin Gammell in the lead roles. With its masterful blend of ominous wilderness and psychological terror, Rituals gives you a truly encapsulating movie experience, right from the opening act till the final credits roll. The script masterfully engineered by Ian Sutherland ensures you remain at the edge of your seat from the start to finish of this thriller.

The film explores a theme of survival horror in a wilderness setting, a motif long utilized in the genre of horror and thrillers. The plot of Rituals is set in motion when five doctors, portrayed by Hal Holbrook, Lawrence Dane, Robin Gammell, Ken James, and Gary Reineke, embark on an annual wilderness trip in the deep Canadian wilderness. The tale takes these friends from their accustomed, structured medical practice to a brutal and savage world, where survival instincts and feral tactics become the only way to survive.

Holbrook plays Harry, the level-headed doctor with a moral compass, while Dane personifies the role of DJ, an embittered war veteran ridden by guilt. Rounding off this group are Mitzi, Martin, and Abel, who represent distinct personality colours in this tight-knit group of friends. As the narrative unfolds, each character is stripped away from their social veneer, exposing the primal instincts that lie beneath.

Carter's direction takes the plot of a routine wilderness trip and twists it into a harrowing fight against unknown forces. The men find their solace and camaraderie shattered as they realise they are being hunted by an unseen and dangerous entity. Their celerity towards hiking and fishing turns into slow but unyielding paranoia and terror. They are not alone, and the wilderness does not forgive.

The Rituals distinguishes itself by delivering much more than mere jump scares. It delivers a psychological dread accentuated by the intimidating Canadian wilderness, and the haunting, spacious cinematography of René Verzier keeps you ever aware of the impending doom lurking around the corner, ready to pounce on the unsuspecting group of friends. The film clever touches on themes of betrayal, trauma, guilt, and friendship. It forces you to question what lengths people might go to survive when pushed to their limits.

Barriers fall, and friendships are tested as the plot unfolds, with the threat of psychological terror lingering above like a Damocles sword. Its slow-paced narrative strengthens the build-up, which culminates into a horrifying climax that rises from unexpected quarters. The tension in the film is thick enough to be cut with a knife, and it's made all the worse by the individuals' growing anxiety and breakdown.

The acting performances are another highlight, with established actors like Holbrook and Dane delivering power-packed performances that breathe life into their respective characters. Holbrook excels as Harry, the voice of reason and peacekeeper, while Dane takes on the role of a hardened war veteran with a realistic touch of bitterness and guilt. Gammell, James, and Reineke, too, do justice to their roles and are credible in their portrayals.

On the technical front, Rituals deserves a special mention. Its cinematography uses nature to its fullest to deliver the eerie presence lurking in the unknown. The use of sound effects and score has also been strategically moulded to enhance the film's suspenseful narrative and to amplify the group's increasing desperation.

Though it might not be a conventional piece within the horror genre, Rituals is a layered thriller that blends wilderness survival with psychological terror effectively. It probes deep into human fears, manipulation, and betrayals. The complex character development and the increase in suspense as the plot thickens are what sets this film apart. It is a timeless classic that remains relevant today due to its spectacular narrative and eerie presentation.

Rituals, therefore, is a must-watch for those eyeing top-tier psychological thrillers offering a chilling glimpse into the stark contrast between civilised society and the raw brutality of nature.

Rituals is a Horror, Adventure movie released in 1977. It has a runtime of 100 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.2..

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Where can I stream Rituals movie online? Rituals is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Amazon Prime, Plex, Tubi TV, The Roku Channel, Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent Rituals for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

Peter Carter
Hal Holbrook, Lawrence Dane, Robin Gammell
Also directed by Peter Carter
Also starring Lawrence Dane
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