Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ritual (2002)

The story behind "Ritual" is in some ways more interesting than the movie itself. It originated as a remake of one of my favorite zombie movies, "I Walked with a Zombie." However, the "Tales From the Crypt" content was added later, which is kind of weird to me. I mean, at that point whatever pop culture influence the TV series had was pretty much gone, and the prior film "Bordello of Blood" was something of a bomb. Anyways, it sat on the shelf for a while until Dimension purchased it, removed the Crypt Keeper, and pretty much made it a straight to video remake of "I Walked with a Zombie" with a different title. It received little to any fanfare, though it can now be bought on DVD and Blu-Ray for cheep thanks to Echo Bridge (who purchased a lot of the more forgotten Dimension titles) or on Netflix instant.

Opening with a burning room murder that's much better than the one in "Ghost in the Machine", "Ritual" then takes us to the U.S., where doctor Alice Dodgson (Jennifer Grey) had her license suspended after a patient dies. Luckily for her, she soon finds work at the Caribbeans in Wesley Clayborne (Daniel Lapaine), who has cephallitis. That's not his only problem though. Wesley believes that he's been cursed by a voodoo ritual, and that at night, he becomes a zombie. As she digs more into finding out why Wesley is cursed and who is responsible, she soon finds that the conspiracy goes beyond him, as murder and more strange events begin to take place.

Before I to the review, I just want to say that Kristen Wilson plays an island girl named Caro Lamb. I mention this because holy smokes, she is absolutely gorgeous. I mean seriously, her character drips pure sex appeal, and is one of the sexiest women I've seen in a genre movie in ages.

Good lord.

Anyways, "Ritual" is an okay but not exactly spectacular film. It has plenty of atmosphere, most of the performances are good (Wilson steals the show), the gore is used sparingly and effectively, there's a few nice nods to the original (though a cover of "Oh Misery" kinda sucks), and for the large part, the mystery surrounding the film is rarely boring. Unfortunately, the script just isn't up to par. There's humor (mostly from Tim Curry as a permanently horny doctor), but most of the movie takes itself far too seriously. There's little actual energy in the writing, not to mention that the movie itself is a bit too long for it's own good.

 
"Hello? I seem to have ended up in the 80's."

Then there's some seriously wasted opportunities. One of the biggest is how the film uses Curry. The man's a well respected character actor, but it hardly does anything with him. He's there for a few scenes, and that's it. Then there's the other subplots, such as Wesley's older brother Paul ("Nightbreed" actor Craig Sheffer), which ultimately don't go anywhere interesting. In fact, the big twist nearing the end isn't all that surprising at all. In the end, this is a wasted opportunity. Sure, it's perfectly watchable and wouldn't make a bad Saturday afternoon viewing, but it's also kinda forgettable. It doesn't really feel all that necessary, and feels more like a mix of a mid 90's horror film and a direct to video sequel to Wes Craven's "The Serpent and the Rainbow" (which I love) than it does a remake of of the most important zombie films ever made.

Rating: 5/10

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