Setup, Reminder, and Payoff: A Case Study of The Ritual

the ritual horror film movie writing story plotHi, bats, ghouls, and spirits! I wanted to give some brief thoughts on a film I saw a few weeks back, particularly a specific aspect I keep thinking about. David Bruckner’s The Ritual is a solid horror movie about a group of friends going into the woods as strange events occur. It is a film best seen without reading much on it, so if you haven’t seen it, I would recommend doing so because I will mostly be writing about the ending. Many will compare this to The Blair Witch Project, though it at times reminded me more of Evil Dead.

Overall, I thought the film was good, and it was the first good movie I saw in 2018, and the first decent Netflix original horror offering of 2018 (after such films like The Open House and The Cloverfield Paradox). There were great camera choices, especially the use of slow zoom ins, though I felt as if the script could have been stronger in some parts. I will speak about the story concepts of setup, reminder, and payoff, with regards to a plot line in the film. If you haven’t seen the movie, I would recommend not reading the rest of this post because I will go into details that are not revealed until the last thirty minutes of the film. (And really, even the opening is a tad of a spoiler.)

So, SPOILERS below.

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Writing: The Three C’s

Hello, spooky ones!

In my previous post, I spoke about the differences between plot and story. Plot is what happens in the story; story is what your characters want and what impedes them, either externally or internally (typically both). If your character fails to overcome, there will be a consequence, which sets the stakes.

Here, I will give you a tip for how to know your story, and that’s to figure out the three C’s: cannibalism, cats, and chocolate. Just kidding! Character, Conflict, and Consequences. This will also come in handy if you need to summarize your story briefly in, for example, a query letter, since these function as the core of your story.

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