Rituals (1977)

A group of doctors, both friends and colleagues, meet once a year to go on a trip to reconnect. This year, it’s camping. With an established prickliness among them, stemming from professional disagreements to personal judgments, they fly into a remote area called “The Cauldron of The Moon” by the land’s Indigenous people.

Trekking through creeks and thick brush, the men set up camp, sit around the fire, and talk about their careers, often at odds with each other. They think they are the only ones out in the deep forest, but they’re wrong. After their boots mysteriously disappear, one of them heads off for help since he’s the only one who brought extra shoes. The terror ramps up when they find a deer carcass at the campsite and soon discover a stalker is methodically tracking them during their search for safety. As tempers flare and the friends risk life and limb, the dangerous situation overwhelms them in the deep, dark wilderness.

The rough terrain of Batchawana Bay and Lake Superior in Ontario proves a beautiful but treacherous backdrop for this Canadian cousin to the 1972 classic survivalist drama Deliverance. While Rituals didn’t win any awards, was lost in the shuffle of tax shelter cinema, and was renamed The Creeper for a shorter cut, it remains a cult classic for many horror fans.

Rituals stars award-winning American actor Hal Holbrook, Canadians Rabin Gammel and Lawrence Dane, and was directed by Peter Carter, a British-born Canadian director well known for his contributions to film and television.

Review by Carolyn Mauricette

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Canadian connection

Directed by Peter Carter and written by Ian Sutherland
Rituals was written by Ian Sutherland, who also penned popular Canadian TV shows like Street Legal, ENG and Night Heat.