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Five doctors go on vacation deep in the Canadian wilderness. After all but one pair of the party's shoes disappear, the remaining shoed camper decides to hike out and go look for help. Soon after he leaves, however, his four companions realizes that something is very wrong when someone leaves a decapitated deer head just outside their camp. Even though they still don't have their shoes, they decide to follow their friend's trail out of the woods, but their path is blocked by someone who doesn't want to see them leave the forest alive. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Towards the end of the film, when Harry's character is dragging the stretcher over rocky terrain, you can clearly see he is wearing boots. They were supposed to have had their boots stolen and had to wrap their feet in plastic tarp. See more »
Often compared to John Boorman's "Deliverance" (1972), Peter Carter's "Rituals" (aka. "The Creeper") of 1977 is a creepy and effective Canadian 'backwoods' Horror film which isn't too well-known, but enjoys a certain cult-status among Horror fans. The comparisons with "Delicerance" are obvious: A bunch of civilized men take a trip into the wilderness in order to have an adventure in the beauty of nature, and have to experience unexpected terrors. In this case, five medical doctors take a trip to go hiking in a remote lakeside area in the deep Canadian woods, days' walks away from civilization. In the first night, their boots get stolen. From that time onward, the friends are getting stalked by a murderous phantom fiend...
The film was obviously shot on a modest budget, and is very well-made. The beautiful but inescapable Canadian wilderness is a perfect location for a backwoods horror film, and "Rituals" maintains a truly creepy and menacing atmosphere from the beginning to the end. None of the characters is really likable, which slightly lessens the suspense, as one isn't as scared for them. The characters are thereby those one would expect in such a film: There is the heroic tough guy (Hal Holbrook), the scumbag (Lawrence Dane), the wuss (Robin Gammell), the clown (Gary Reinecke). Personally, I always lament the lack of a woman character in a Horror film, as I find it a lot easier to be scared for a woman than for a man. However, I see the point, as a trip into the wilderness is something that a bunch of guys would do together. The somewhat gonzo-style cinematography in the wilderness sometimes increases the feeling of presence (and therefore the creepiness) and reminded me of the Italian Cannibal films (such as "Cannibal Holocaust") that were shot around the time and later. The score is very good and effective, and the moments of powerful Classical music fit the film very well. The violence is not overtly gory, but quite disturbing. Especially in its second half, the film gets creepy as hell. Overall, "Rituals" is highly recommendable, especially to my fellow fans of gritty low-budget 70s Horror.
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