A Scattershot Approach to Catch a Tribalistic Murderer
A detective and professor hunt a murderous witchdoctor who mutilates his victims for a nefarious purpose. The Ritual Killer carves hapless innocents on two continents with law enforcement literally right on his heels. The disjointed narrative poorly connects two awkward storylines. Strange flashback scenes explain the primary character’s internal grief but have no impact on the actual plot. It amounts to unnecessary exposition and filler that strains the pacing for an already lean runtime. Former NFL star Vernon Davis is the only high point as a scarred and merciless antagonist.
In Rome, Italian detective Mario Lavazza (Guiseppe Zeno) and his task force find a horrific crime scene. A young woman has been tortured in a ceremony where the murderer methodically excised several body parts. Meanwhile, in Jackson, Mississippi, detective Lucas Boyd (Cole Hauser) and his partner (Murielle Hilaire) kick down the hotel room door of a pervert holding a runaway girl. Boyd, grieving over the loss of his teenage daughter, inflicts severe justice when his partner shepherds the girl away. At nearby Milsaps College, Mackles (Morgan Freeman), an African studies professor, lectures his students on the dark arts of tribal medicines.
Lavazza chases a suspect through Rome’s streets at night. The behemoth Randoku (Davis) runs and jumps like a gazelle. He shreds every cop in his path with a specialized blade. Lavazza cannot keep up with the physical juggernaut. Randoku makes a call and arranges a meeting. He needs to get out of town. His wealthy benefactor has a destination.
A Grisly Discovery
Screen Media Films
Boyd is called to the river for a grisly discovery. A young woman has been found mutilated. Another crime soon follows with more disturbing clues. Boyd heads to Milsaps College to speak with Mackles. A Google search revealed the culprit practices Muti. Boyd, Mackles, and Lavazza must put together the pieces to find Randoku and his heinous eventual goal.
Related: Scream VI Review: Ghostface Slices the Big Apple
The Ritual Killer has enough chase scenes to qualify at a track meet. Randoku wins the 400 every time as huffing and puffing law enforcement can’t keep up. The galloping takes place between his bouts of murder. You never see them, just the grotesque aftermath. Randoku’s constant running around becomes comical. You can see why director George Gallo (Bad Boys) chose a former pro athlete. Randoku’s aerobic escapades look ridiculous in comparison to his acting. Davis is convincing with a scary face and menacing accent. We just don’t see enough of him being villainous.
The police work involved in the mystery is borderline farcical. The film never shows you how the Italians found Randoku. Boyd basically bumbles into him. Randoku, you’d think would be more discrete in his evil activities, basically holds up a sign for the cops to identify him. The connection between the detectives in Rome and Jackson is extremely tenuous. There’s no real effort in the script to logically put them together. You’re just supposed to accept that it happens.
African Roots & Muti
The Ritual Killer’s subplots lack substance. The time spent on Boyd’s tragedy and Mackles African roots doesn’t amount to much. Boyd could have continued Googling to easily uncover Randoku’s Muti-inspired agenda.
The Ritual Killer is a production of Wonderfilm Media, Black Diamond Films, Lervolino & Lady, and Bacardi Entertainment. It will have a concurrent VOD and theatrical release on March 10th from Redbox Entertainment and Screen Media.