by Tony Harrington
The film tells the story from the perspective of one man, the movie itself is pretty much a one man show with actor Scott Seegmiller (A relative unknown, this is his only acting credit) turning in a rather decent performance as the main character Eric Peterson.
Peterson is a recent college graduate who shares a house on campus with his roommate and girlfriend. After receiving word that he has landed a lucrative job in Korea he opts to forgo a night of partying to prepare an essay that is required for his new position. As he goes about cleaning the house to get the security deposit back he discovers a book on the floor of his roommate’s room, the book is surrounded by burning candles. Intrigued, Eric grabs the book, blows out the candles and flips through the pages of the book and learns that it is called “The Ceremony” and is a guidebook about the path to spiritual enlightnment. As he reads though he discovers that achieveing the ultimate level of enlightenment comes with a price.
Previous recipients of the gift have gone mad, lost their eyesight, and disappear completely. Another man went mad and locked himself in his house for decades until he died. Eric looks at the book as more of a joke but is intrigued by a particular passage written in Latin but remains undecipherable. He makes a horror movie rookie mistake and reads the words aloud, unaware that the incantation makes a deal with something not of this realm.
Before long Eric is seeing shadow figures, hearing footsteps, seeing appliances and household items moving around by themselves and hearing voices speaking to him in a language he doesn’t understand.
“The Ceremony” is a subtle film at first and slowly builds horrific tension to great effect. After a slow start the horror is ratcheted up and the film enters “white-knuckle” territory with scares that rival anything seen (or unseen) in “Paranormal Activity”. In fact, this film rivals that blockbuster in terms of frights and the twist ending in “The Ceremony” seems like it was lifted for the 2010 Paranormal Activity sequel.
As a viewer you share the character’s fear, you comprehend his paranoia, you feel his desperation and question what is reality and what is imagined. Because you spend so much time with the character the film becomes a study in empathy as you feel every shock and jump Eric Peterson feels. The camera work is beautifully done, allowing you to see things “out of the corner of your eye” and not full-on, always leaving you guessing. There is one scene where the camera just lingers a little too long on a room and your eyes dart frantically from one corner of the screen to the other looking for anything abnormal or a sign that you are not alone. Then your stomach tightens in anticipation of a jump-scare that may or may not materialize.
“The Ceremony” is a taut psychological thriller that only slightly falls apart in the final reel with the twist ending that is reminiscent of “The Twilight Zone”.
For a terrifying excursion into the world of ghosts and hauntings, check out the slow-burn thriller “The Ceremony” today.
Written By: James Palmer Directed by: James Palmer