Character and theme in the horror film The Ritual

The Ritual

Directed by David Bruckner
Screenplay by Joe Barton
Story (novel) by Adam Nevill

IMDb page

The story, as told in the Netflix blurb:

Four friends with a long-standing — but strained — connection take a hiking trip into the Swedish wilderness, from which they may never return.

The rest of it (spoilers coming, so go watch the movie before reading any further):

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Character arcs in the Heart of the Sea

We hear a lot about character arcs in screenwriting/novel/creative writing – the idea is, of course, that a character changes based on what happens to them over the course of the plot, that they decisions they make at the beginning are necessarily different than the ones they make at the end.

Examples are always helpful, right? Well, here’s one, from In the Heart of the Sea, the recent-ish Ron Howard whaling adventure that didn’t do so well at the box office.

The film, you may recall, essentially recounts two events that inspired the writer Herman Melville as he penned his great novel Moby-Dick.

First, the film – which is based on the book of the same name – tells the true story of the whaling ship Essex, which was sunk in 1820 after being attacked by a large, but not white, sperm whale. The crew was set adrift and struggled to survive (many of them, in fact, didn’t).

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Ghost Control Inc.

Been meaning to put some time into this one – it’s from a few years ago (2014), and is best described as X-Com (old-timey X-Com, like UFO Defense and Terror from the Deep) meets Ghostbusters, a turn-based-and-grid-based strategy affair that sees you slip into the coveralls of a London-based ghost-battling company.

You’ll need to head out to cemeteries and spooky houses to strategically position your team, one tile at a time, to best blast and trap spooky ghosties, mainly. But there’s also some businessy housekeeping work to keep on top off back at the base – hiring and firing busters (also keeping them healed up and curse-free via trips to a nearby hospital), purchasing and researching and upgrading gear and equipment, keeping your (also upgradable) Ecto-1 knockoff gassed up.

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Not A Hero

There are some video games that excel at treading that fine line between “I’ve GOTTA play just ONE MORE LEVEL because this is FANTASTIC” and “I’m going to take this controller, run it over with my car, gather up the pieces, smash them into smaller pieces with an old, ugly hammer, gather up the smaller pieces, stuff them into a sack, and then throw that sack off a bridge” – Not A Hero is one of those games.

Not A Hero by Roll7 is a very-fast-paced, sometimes panicky, side-scrolling blast-em-up that casts you as one of several unlockable characters who are working for a bunnyman named Bunnylord who’s ONLY RUNNING FOR MAYOR, people. The better you do at shooting bad guys and blowing things up, the higher his approval rating climbs.

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Mansion of Hidden Souls and the art of the jump scare

A bit of a follow-up on my tweet from earlier:

First, yes, I had a Sega CD (also a 32x!), and it was fine.

Second, to the matter at hand, I’ve been playing through The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Redux, and it reminded me, somehow, of Mansion of Hidden Souls, which was released in 1993 for the Sega CD.

I say “somehow” above because, frankly, I don’t remember much about Mansion of Hidden Souls, but it seems to me that it was Ethan Carter-like in the sense that there wasn’t much in the way of outright bad guys wandering around attacking the player. It was more about exploration, puzzles and 1993 video-game atmosphere (someone please correct me if I’m wrong on that – it’s been a while).

Not entirely, though. See, there’s a reason this game sticks out with me – it gave me one of my first all-out, god-forsaken, video-game jump-scares (can’t say for sure it was the first – that Commodore 64 Aliens game seems like it would be a likely candidate for that particular honour).

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