Main cast: Jennifer Grey (Dr Alice Dodgson), Craig Sheffer (Paul Claybourne), Daniel Lapaine (Wesley Claybourne), Kristen Wilson (Caro Lamb), Gabriel Casseus (JB), Tim Curry (Matthew Hope), Ron Taylor (Superintendent Archbald), Erick Avari (Dr Peter Winsford), Dorothy Cunningham (Violette), Kathy Owen (Dr Shaba), Jessica Collins (Jackie), Stephen Tobolowsky (Dr Javitz), Natasha Budhi (Dori), and John Kassir (The Crypt Keeper)
Director: Avi Nesher
On paper, Ritual doesn’t seem too bad. It’s a loose remake of a much older movie called I Walked with a Zombie. I haven’t watched that one, as it came out long before my time – ahem – but from what I gather from the synopsis at Wikipedia, this movie and that one only have superficial similarities in the basic premise. In reality, however, this movie is a tragic allegorical representation of Jennifer Grey’s unhappy career trajectory from Dirty Dancing to bottom barrel slumming. You’d think a nose job would make her a desirable star, but alas, people preferred the big honker, those bastards, and sadly, this movie is as low as any actor can go before getting a shovel to dig even deeper.
Dr Alice Dodgson is forced to take up a caregiver job in Jamaica after being fired from her job in the US for her role in a patient’s death. I know, right, hiring someone like that to care for a family member is the most sensible thing to do. Indeed, her employer Paul Claybourne pays her to look over Wesley, his younger brother who seems to be not quite there upstairs. That man claims to black out and doesn’t remember what he does during that period, and no one seems to know what is happening to him. Of course, with this being a Tales from the Crypt movie and with it being set in Jamaica, of course it involves… ta-da! Voodoo… or what passes for it in this franchise.
The problem right away is just how this movie looks like its entire special effects are put together by a kid who is trying out the software for the first time. Nothing looks real, much less scary – the CGI often resembles the vomit of some drunk fellow splattered all across the screen.
Fine, this movie isn’t scary as much as it is schlocky – that’s not too bad as the previous two movies of this franchise are in that vein too. Unfortunately, nothing interesting really happens here from start to finish. For much of its run time, it’s just jump scares into jump scares, many of which turn out to be nightmares of Alice. Also, this movie rehashes the now politically incorrect tropes from the voodoo episodes of the TV series, so it’s a given that once you recognize the tropes and the archetypes in this movie based on what you have seen in those episodes, you already know whom the bad guys are and it’s then a few nose picks away from correctly deducing the villains’ motives as well.
As for the cast… well, Tim Curry looks like he’s soused most of the time and he clearly just wants his paycheck, while everyone else looks like they are forced to be in this movie at gunpoint. Nobody has any chemistry with one another, and worse, post-production actually allows characters in a scene to talk over one another in ways that suggest the people responsible for that are just as soused too.
I’m not kidding when I say that nothing actually happens in Ritual other than a display of really inept CGI and jump squares trying to hide the fact that this movie doesn’t have any interesting story line going for it. Everyone in this movie looks and acts like they are dead inside – perhaps they are the true zombies in this movie. God knows I feel like one myself after watching this dreary thing. The Tales from the Crypt brand can’t ask for a more embarrassing, undignified send-off than this utter failure of everything and anything.