Certificate: 15

Running Time: 94 mins

Star Rating: 3/5

THE Hangover downs shots with Deliverance and The Blair Witch Project, and blood flows more readily than the booze, in David Bruckner's horror thriller. Laced with Nordic mythology and laddish banter, The Ritual is a grim tale of hapless thirtysomething pals, who get horribly lost in a Scandinavian forest and come face-to-face with a malevolent force that drives them to the brink of despair.

You won't need a map and compass to navigate each twist in Joe Barton's script, adapted from the novel by Adam Nevill, or discern the order in which thinly sketched characters are most likely to meet a grisly demise. The winding path to carnage is familiar and Bruckner's picture employs gallows humour to acknowledge these horror tropes as well as alleviate tension, like when the pals stumble into a tumbledown shack under the rain-sodden cloak of darkness and discover their temporary refuge is festooned with ancient runes.

Tragedy stalks early scenes as five drinking buddies - Dom (Sam Troughton), Hutch (Robert James-Collier), Luke (Rafe Spall), Phil (Arsher Ali) and Rob (Paul Reid) - unwittingly walk into a bungled robbery. Six months later, the remaining quartet heads to northern Sweden to honour Rob's memory by hiking through the barren, picturesque wilderness. As night falls and thunder rumbles overhead, tempers fray and the four friends are plagued by nightmarish visions that gnaw away at their sanity.