M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Three of my decade-long Retro-Best in Horror recap Countdowns begins officially on October 1, 2012 and goes through September 30, 2013. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2012 and September 30, 2013 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on April 5, 2013 and available on digital download, On Demand and BluRay/DVD here!

RITUAL (2012)

Directed by Joko Anwar
Written by Joko Anwar
Starring Rio Dewanto, Hannah Al Rashid, Aridh Tritama, Izzi Isman, Sadha Triyudha, Jose Gamo, Marsha Timothy, Surya Saputra
Find out more about this film here!

Playing with an audience’s expectations is a dangerous thing, but it appears Indonesian filmmaker Joko Anwar doesn’t really care about all of that. Fool them too much and they’ll turn on you. I have noticed that modern audiences don’t like to have the wool pulled over their eyes. Weaned on predictable Hollywood cinema, when things do happen as planned or are not projected a mile in advance, some folks’ world gets flipped ass up and there are some who aren’t comfortable with that feeling. Personally, I go to films to see things I normally don’t see. To be surprised. To not know what’s coming around the corner. Because I’m like that, I enjoyed the hell out of MODUS ANOMALI aka RITUAL.

A man wakes up buried in a shallow grave in the woods. He’s disoriented and alone and can’t remember his name, his life, or anything. Soon he realizes he’s not alone in the woods. In the distance he sees a man with a machete, causing him to run and hide. Approaching a cabin, he finds the body of a woman and a video camera. When it’s played, he sees the murder of the woman in the cabin and soon finds himself in a fight for his life.

Immediately, I was enthralled by this film because it is a typical man vs. nature film as one man struggles to survive, forcing him to live off of his know-how and the land around him. Anwar keeps things moving right from the beginning as his film’s star, Rio Dewanto, runs through trees and woodland growth, hiding behind rocks and diving into the dirt. It’s to the director’s testament that he is able to follow his actor through the woods for so long without things becoming tedious or repetitive.

Dewanto is fantastic as the man seeking truth and survival from an unknown menace. Most of the time he is communicating through simple facial expressions and the rigorous workout he is put through leaping through the woods. The turns this character takes throughout the film require much from this actor, and all along the way from start to finish Dewanto makes things absolutely believable.

The turn this film takes toward the end is the reason for my rant in the first paragraph. Though somewhat logistically murky, the ending does make sense. Halfway through I began to suspect something was amiss with this scenario, but loved the ride nevertheless. The director goes to painstaking lengths to make it all work out meticulously. I didn’t, but I’m sure some might find the whole thing a bit contrived.

MODUS ANOMALI aka RITUAL is a grueling film experience, one that will definitely make you wince at the brutal action and gore. It’s not one anyone can predict outright, but it leaves enough breadcrumbs for the audience to figure things out by the end. If you like run-of-the-mill films you can predict from the beginning, you’re going to hate this film, but MODUS ANOMALI (aka RITUAL) doesn’t follow the well-worn path and instead the clever directing and a convincing lead performance provided unexpected thrills and winces at what is playing out on screen.

THE 2012-2013 COUNTDOWN!

#23 – V/H/S/2
#24 – MON AMI

M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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