The Ritual: Did the Gospel Just Show Up in a Horror Movie

He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.

– Isaiah 25:8


I’m a bit of a movie-buff. It all started with a Blockbuster membership my brother and I had back in the day. At one point, I remember vividly bragging that we had seen every movie our local store had to offer. My brother and I always bonded over B-movies, specifically the abundance of garbage in the horror section. Through this, I developed a love for monster movies, so when I recently found out Netflix had a new original monster movie, I was absolutely sold. After I got into it, I realized that The Ritual teetered on some themes I didn’t want to involve myself with spiritually; however, in hopes of seeing the purposed monster, I stuck it through. At its climax, I was hit with a beautiful spiritual truth… in a pagan monster movie?

Warning movie spoilers – Skip to next paragraph for post

To keep this brief, The Ritual tells of a group of friends’ hiking trip through the Swedish trail, Kungsleden. During their journey, they become lost within a forest and hunted by something. At the apex of the film, the remaining friends find themselves within a small village dedicated to worshiping the creature. The protagonist, Luke, learns from one of the villagers that the monster is one of the Jötunn, a spawn of Loki, and an ancient Scandinavian god whose name cannot be spoken. The Jötunn offers eternal life to those that worship him; however, those that try to flee or are not worthy are brutally killed by him. Luke finds that he is marked by Jötunn due to his immense suffering in life and is destined to become one of the villagers; however, he refuses to conform and flees the village but is ultimately chased down by the god. At the final confrontation, instead of killing him, the Jötunn continually forces Luke to the ground to worship him, which feeds the god. Eventually, the film ends with Luke narrowly escaping the god and exiting out of the forest, its domain, to safety.

End of Spoilers

Perhaps the reason I love monster movies so much is that I know that it’s purely fantasy and in no way possible; however, the final scene and the nature of the monster really spoke to me about the nature of evil and the power of the cross. Just like the god in The Ritual, Satan’s ultimate strategy is to make humanity worship him. Just as death is the ultimate consequence of sin, Satan’s ultimate power is the fear of death. Through this fear, Satan desires man to be forced into turning to the things that are not of Christ. The Jötunn forces humans to worship him or suffer the consequence of death. Satan, even if he doesn’t personally deliver the curse of death, uses it to elicit a response from man. With the cross, Jesus puts to death Satan’s greatest weapon.

As Christians, all of Satan’s strategies and power over us are broken; however, through Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross, even the greatest weapon, death, is broken over our lives, making the fear of death the ultimate victory in Christ. We are promised eternity and paradise, not by our merit, but by His. In my personal life, after an incredibly difficult year that included immense financial pressure, depression, spiritual dryness, poor health, heartbreak, and tragic deaths, I am reminded that Jesus has already won the battle and taken away the sorrow. Even though we are not promised a perfect life now, our hope is so great in Him that no matter what happens in this life, we can find peace, solace, and joy in the promise that rests upon Him. I don’t want to sound cliché, but no matter what you are going through, I encourage you to place it in Jesus’ hands. He paid the ultimate price for hope to enter into your life and for the evil that penetrates the world would have no more power over your life.

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