On THE RITUAL, “The Reveal”, and When to Show the Blood
I’ve recently seen some buzz on Netflix’s THE RITUAL that is quite disparate in nature—some are praising it as amazing neo-Lovecraftian horror with a dash of Norse mythology. Others are decrying the wimpy behavior of the group of adult male characters, who clearly could be beat up by kids younger than the gang in STAND BY ME. The movie attempts to combine the inner conflict of a main character trying to deal with his inner-demon of cowardice, with the outward attack of a monster stalking his group of friends in a Scandinavian forest.
This is where the story begins to intrigue me, as I find the setting, the woods itself, the abandoned cabins, and the physical appearance of the monster to be pretty original and interesting. And as the monster’s attacks increase in their frequency, it places the film’s narrative structure in an unusual place on what I’ll call “the reveal spectrum”. Where a story lands on this spectrum can make or break it with a given audience. For example, if we described the reveal scale in terms of “low” meaning we never see the monster or the blood, and “high” meaning there is frequent graphic imagery and action, I’d put THE RITUAL somewhere in the middle, as we don’t see much during the first half, but get to see the entire monster attacking the characters by the end. I’d put something like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT as being extremely low reveal. On the other end of the spectrum, you have a movie like THE THING. In this story, the monster attacks early. What some would call “splatter” violence, I would instead call ‘high reveal’, and then any ensuing subtlety does not revolve around glimpses of a menace to come, but intricacies in how the characters interact with each other and their situation.
As an author, while my stories tend to be high on the reveal scale. And yet I like to play a lot with the how and when. What might look like a big reveal when a corpse rises from a coffin, might instead be concealing something the alchemist doesn’t want you to see in another part of the root cellar. In my novella SLASH OF CRIMSON, the reveal is as much about who someone really is as the blood that gets spilled in the discovery.
Carl R. Moore is the author of Slash of Crimson and Other Tales, published by Seventh Star Press and available for purchase on Amazon.com.
Book Synopsis for Slash of Crimson and Other Tales: SLASH OF CRIMSON AND OTHER TALES offers two novellas and six short stories that combine an intoxicating mix of horror, crime noir, and alt-mythology. Its title story spins a dark maritime yarn about Drew Aldrin, a young guitarist and street rough, who takes a harrowing journey with a red-eyed beauty who claims she’s from Atlantis. The half-dozen brutal and sardonic short stories that follow tell of lost souls tortured by demons and far worse. The final novella, Torn from the Devil’s Chest, serves unsuspecting Sociology student Lyla Banes a deliciously disturbing feast of deception and trust-destroying lust. Indulge yourself in a collection that guarantees to thrill the senses while it shocks the nerves
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