I think what I love most about the horror genre is, while main stream cinema pumps out adaptations, reboots, and sequels, there are always at least one or two scary movies a year that surprise me with originality.
Netflix's The Ritual takes place across the pond, where four close friends deal with the tragic death of their friend six months earlier by honoring his memory with a hike in the Scandinavian wilderness. As they take a shortcut through the totally-not-dangerous-at-all Blair Witch woods, the spooks begin to set, and the story takes off from there.
Now whenever I'm in a mood, what I like to do is go onto Netflix and just peruse the horror section for anything that might pique my interest. I started off with The Conjuring, a film that I'd heard about but never got around to seeing. I left the film feeling luke-warm about it at best, immediately switched to The Ritual, and the difference was day and night.
The best thing that The Ritual has going for it is its well developed characters. Each one of these friends feel like real people. More than that, these aren't four teenagers running off on spring break. Each one of these men is at least 35+, and the ominous cloud of their friend's murder haunts them more than the monster in the trees.
Speaking of the monster, The Ritual does a masterful build up without feeling frustrating or drawn out at any point of the film. Even in the slow, character-building bits, nothing was left unrelated to the plot, and you're already invested into the personal drama from the first ten minutes. You couldn't 100% hate or love anyone in this film, because they are as flawed as human beings are supposed to be.
There is, also, a single point in the filmed where I laughed harder than I had in any movie in years. Not because it was doing something intentionally funny, but because I just simply wasn't prepared. It involves punching an old lady. In the face.
All in all, I give The Ritual a hardy recommendation. Netflix continues to surprise and awe me with their original and acquired content, especially on the tails of just going through most of Black Mirror.