Ritual feels about as much like a Tales from the Crypt film as Def By Temptation felt like a Troma film — that is, not at all. With barely a hint of the humor or the gore (aside from a grisly opening scene) that marked the excellent Demon Knight and the, er, Dennis Miller-y Bordello of Blood, this restrained and serious-minded third entry in the Crypt series seems like it was made outside of the realm of the Cryptkeeper and, like Def, had the recognizable name slapped on after the fact.
Ritual is actually loosely based on I Walked With a Zombie, which goes a long way to explaining its lack of sensationalism — although really, it ends up feeling like a poor man’s Serpent and the Rainbow. As with both IWWAZ and SATR, a white doctor/scientist-type (Jennifer Grey, whose nose may have shrunk but whose nipples cannot be contained) visits the Caribbean and gets wrapped up in deep voodoo doodoo. Actually, since the film takes place in Jamaica, the term most often used is “obeah,” and while this attention to detail doesn’t necessarily make for great horror, Ritual is one of the most realistic Hollywood showcases of voodoo, obeah, whatever around. There’s also interesting insight into the racial dynamics of the Caribbean plantation system, but hey, is this a horror film or a history book? That said, the decision not to include Patrick Swayze or a Jennifer Warnes ballad is much appreciated.