Friday, 16 June 2017

Ritual (2002)

Tim Curry. You're better than this.


Ritual


Dr. Alice Dodgson is suspended from her job for handing out trial drugs to a patient and killing them. She takes a job as a private physician to Wesley Claybourne in Jamaica for her two year suspension period. While there she befriends local Caro, and is drawn into a web of voodoo.

This movie doesn't work on many levels. Starting at the beginning when Alice (Jennifer Grey - Dirty Dancing) mis-prescribes drugs. She is slapped on the wrist, and allowed to work elsewhere. I would have suspected more of a - I don't know - manslaughter case? Immediately our "hero" is not just flawed, but largely unlikable. Upon arriving in Jamaica the rest of the cast are rolled out. It should be good, the cast is good. Joining Grey, we have obvious villain, Craig Scheffer (Nightbreed), Tim Curry (IT), Daniel Lapaine (Zero Dark Thirty), and Kristen Wilson (Doctor Doolittle). Sadly they don't live up to their reputations.

It's also all very...white.


Tim Curry / Jennifer Grey
 
Focusing on doctors and scientists, landowners, and such, there is very little authenticity to the film. Most of the cast are American. The local township, villages, and people are glossed over for this sub-par who-done-it, set only in Jamaica so that voodoo can be used.

Daniel Lapaine plays Scheffer's brother, and is convinced he is a zombie. Alice is told that he is suffering with encephalitis. It's all washed over with vagueries, in favor of sultry imagery and titillation. Alice starts to suffer with strange dreams and hallucinations, and it becomes apparent that someone is drugging them... with voodoo. *waves fingers at screen*

As the conclusion of the film is reached, it is revealed that local Caro is in fact third in line to Scheffer and Lapaine's land, and she plans on killing everyone to take the land for herself. In fact, an earlier reveal shows that everyone in the main cast is in on some plot to get rich off of the land.

Sadly, the film is not that engaging, the story lines are trite nonsense, and any underpinning of a good movie is lost as the film plays out the finale to a twisted and unpleasant solution, leaving a bad taste in the mouth. But more on that in a moment.

There is some good. Daniel Lapaine plays his character well. He acts most people from the screen with a charming arrogance, making him one of the few likable characters in the cast. The other noteworthy appearance is Gabriel Casseus as J.B., Grey's guide through the film, although he's given little to do except exposit.

The rest of the cast pretty much mumble and sleepwalk through. Never have I seen Tim Curry so restrained and phoning it in. What happened to you Scheffer? Man, Night Breed is one of my favorite films.

Kristen Wilson

As a horror film, it fails. It's not scary. Let's just put that out there. It's also deep veined with voodoo bad. Medicine good. It's a little, black and white about things, if I can put it that way. And there's also the ending.

Hm.

Throughout the runtime, local Superintendant Archibald (a dead-eyed Ron Taylor - Trading Places) had expressed a physical attraction to Caro. A real creepy one too. At the films conclusion Caro is turned into a zombie by Alice, meaning she now lives in a practically comatose state. It transpires that Archibald has taken her, and married her, with the final shot being of him laying her un-moving body on the marital bed.

How about no? Closing the movie on the note that this woman is enslaved to a man, who is likely to rape her time and again is no way to end a film. It shouldn't be in the film.

I find little, if anything, to recommend.






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