Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Ceremony (2008)

Fear 5/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5

Rolling the proverbial dice that is my cable's On Demand TV service, I decided to fork over my $4.99 for this indie film after watching the trailer. I'm glad I did.

The film starts off with a recently graduated college student, coming home from what appears to be a mid afternoon workout. He share's the house with a couple of roommate buddies but on this afternoon, no one's home. As he goes room to room to verify the packing progress of his flat mates (they have to be out soon), he comes upon one with an old book on the floor, encircled by a group of lighted candles. Puzzled by the grouping, he picks up the book and flips through it, reading a few of the passages. The book contains a ceremony by wherein the participant (if successful), has the opportunity to achieve a heightened sense of personal enlightenment. But of course, it comes at a cost.

Laying down the book and thinking nothing more about what he just read, he carries on with his day which consists of: laundry, packing, talking to friends on the phone about a party that night and with a doctor who's offering him his first full-time gig. Where some may find the mundane tasks boring, the film keeps you intrigued when these actions are performed with a creepy soundtrack that is interspersed. It keeps you on edge as the anticipation builds with an impending doom-like quality. Afterall, its not hard to surmise that upon opening the book and reciting a few lines, our main character has unwittingly began something that has yet to be finished.

As late day gives way to night, strange occurances begin to take place: bumps and thumps, the sounds of people walking through the house, slamming doors, furniture capsizing and crashing, shadowy figures being caught out of the corner of his eye. At first thinking its the neighboring frat house playing one of its usual pranks, our central figure begins to seriously worry when he finds himself locked in the house and voices coming out of the upstairs room.

The film culminates in a confrontation with a man dressed in white. A familiar incarnation of an evil which has taken one of its many forms. Our central character becomes conflicted by the choice he must make as he is informed that he must complete the ceremony which he himself started.

A pleasantly frightening surprise, The Ceremony may be low on budget. But its high on what makes a great horror film: atmosphere and suspense combined with a genuine feeling of fear and entrapment. The fact that the film was shot in one locale (the house), further lent itself to the feeling of no way out for our main character. I will say that this film is definitely of the slow burn variety (think Paranormal Activity or The House of the Devil) and chances are, if you are not a fan of this style of film, then you may not like it. My only criticism of the film is that it does rely on the haunted house schtick one too many times and it does get repetitious. But once the intensity wratchets up as the film nears its third act, it plows full steam ahead and devolves into complete and utter madness.

More information about The Ceremony can be found here. You can also check out the trailer via the site. I had a hard time trying to find it on YouTube.

Cortez the Killer

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


Bill said...

Wow...just caught this on netflix. Slowww burn but can't deny I was jumping. Really impressed by the creepy, lingering shots of the house. Thanks for the reco

Cortez The Killer said...

Bill, thanks for checking it out. Definitely a unique and creepy film.

Anonymous said...

I was looking for more explanations about what Eric would have to give to Satan in return, and stumbled upon your review. I just would like to note that what started the exchange was Eric blowing out the candles, not him reading the passage out loud. Several times Eric reads from the book that when the fire goes out, the exchange will begin (or something like that).