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A god. Ancient. One of the Jötunn. A bastard offspring of Loki. We do not say its name. We worship it. It keeps us here. Let us live beyond natural life. No more pain. No more death. Your ritual begins tonight. It is a privilege to worship. You will kneel before the god. If not, it will hang you from the trees.
~ A female cultist about Moder.

Moder, or also better known as The Creature, is the main antagonist of Adam Nevill's 2011 British horror novel The Ritual, and its 2017 film adaptation of the same name. She is an obscure Jötunn that inhabits a forest in Northern Sweden and is venerated by an ancient group of cultists.

In the 2017 film adaptation, her vocal sound effects were provided by Luke Gentry.

Biography

Background

As described by one of the Swedish cultists, Moder is a "bastard offspring" of the Norse god Loki and is one of the Jötnar, a race of troll/giant-like gods that served as the rivals of Gods of Asgard in Norse mythology. She appears as an enormous, elk-like monster with bright yellow eyes, skeletal head with antlers and a pair of human-like hands on her head. Moder stalks travelers who enter her forest and "marks" the person who has suffered from emotional pain. That person is given a choice; worship Moder or die at hwr hands. Those who are not marked by her are tortured and sacrificed.

After centuries, Moder has created a cult of worshippers, made up of missing people who hiked through the forest surrounding her home. The cultists who worship her are given eternal life and are protected by Moder from outsiders. A group of friends, Phil, Hutch, Luke, and Dom, are hiking in northern Sweden in honor of their friend Rob, who was killed during a store robbery. Hutch converses with Luke and decides to hike through the forest because it is a quicker route back to their lodge. Everyone agrees, and they enter the forest in the early morning.

The Ritual

In the forest, the group notices that the woods are unsettlingly quiet, and come across a large eviscerated elk, skewered on a tree. As the rain comes, the group notice a runic symbol carved on a tree and find an abandoned cabin. Upstairs, they discover a headless wooden effigy with deer antlers for arms. The friends are unnerved but decide to stay in the cabin. That night, supernatural occurrences begin; Luke has a nightmare of Rob and wakes up with a strange claw mark on his chest. Subsequently, Hutch wakes up and finds that he had wet his pants. Dom suddenly begins screaming in his sleep before he wakes. Luke heads upstairs and finds Phil, naked and praying in front of the effigy. Frightened, the group hurriedly leave the cabin and plan to continue on their hike.

When the group stops due to Dom injuring his leg, Luke climbs to a clearing to scout out the area and sees Moder hiding behind a tree before she startles him. Dom and Luke get into an argument before they continue. As they camp one evening, Hutch asks Luke to head to the lodge at sunrise while he will stay with Phil and Dom. However, Luke awakens in the night to Moder's footsteps before she abducts Hutch. The friends later find his body in the same manner as the elk; bloody and impaled on a tree. Luke climbs to higher ground and sees that they are near to their lodge; when he returns, Phil is taken by Jötunn and is momentarily found impaled on a tree. Luke and Dom run from the Jötunn and stumble on a village, where they are held hostage by a group of Swedish cultists. One of them reveals that Luke will be offered to join the group, as they are all marked like him, but Dom is sacrificed to Moder, who takes the form of his wife before killing him.

Luke escapes and ignites the barely living elders of the cultist at the attic of the main cottage where he is held to cover his escape. This infuriates Moder who kills the surviving cultists as punishment for their negligence. Luke runs from ber into the forest and is forced on his knees several times, being offered a chance to submit to the Jötunn. But instead, Luke strikes at Moder with an ax and flees until he exits the forest; the Jötunn halts by the forest's boundary, and cannot cross. Luke and Moder exchange roars at each other before the former heads to the lodge.

It's unknown what happened to Moder afterwards, but it can be inferred that the Jötunn had to start all over again in rebuilding her cult.

Personality and Traits

Moder presented herself as a dark guardian deity of the secluded woodland she held dominion over. The beast Jötunn stalks travelers who dare to trespass her pine forest domain as she singles out those who emotionally troubled among them, marking them and forcing them to confront traumatic moments in their lives in order to easily convert them while executing the rest. Her unforgiving and demanding nature not unlike cruel pagan deities is best shown through her interaction with her cult; she expects periodical sacrifice in return of blessings upon them and slaughters them for transgressions (ex. failure in keeping prisoners in check and preventing the harm upon their half-dead elders) even if said transgressions were done out of sloppiness. Despite this, Moder is not without the capacity to show mercy or compassion as she gives her would-be devotees the chance to pledge upon her in their own volition and protects them in return as long as they won't incur her wrath, only resorting to force them if they show defiance through ill-fated attempt to convert Luke.

Moder is an entity whose appearance fit to that of a Jötunn, the primordial and chaotic giant/troll like deities of Norse Mythology and a child of Loki as stated by one of the cultists. Like Jormungandr and Fenrir, her natural form is animalistic and beast-like instead of humanoid one where in Moder's case, a large elk-like creature with body overgrown with plant matter, spikes protruding along her spine, and an additional set of human-like hands by her hips. Her head resembles a headless human torso with antlers for arms and arms for legs, with a vaguely human head with glowing eyes where its crotch would be.

Powers and Abilities

  • Nature Beast Jötunn Physiology: Moder is an elk-like beast Jötunn on the same vein with Sleipnir who took up the role of local deity in her home's pine forest community.
    • Supernatural Strength: Moder is able to casually carry a grown elk, impale them on sharp twigs of a nearby pine tree, and presumably disembowel it all with her bare small hands.
    • Supernatural Durability: As expected, it's difficult to significantly injure Moder with mortal weapons; not only she can shrug a single shot of hunting rifle which supposedly damaging enough to cripple an elk, but also able to shrug an axe blow on the face despite momentarily disoriented by it.
    • Immortality: Being a pagan god, Moder doesn't age and therefore can live forever, presumably as long as she not perished at hands of sufficiently powerful beings.
    • Camouflage: Even without her supernatural powers, Moder can easily blend into ber surroundings thanks to plant matter that grows around her body.
  • Magic: Moder can perform magical feats which primarily revolves mental abilities to determine potential new followers among those who enter her forest domain.
    • Tribute Blessings: In return of periodical human sacrifice tied on a pole surrounded by nithing poles, Moder can ensure the prosperity and protection of her environment from outsiders. According to one of ber devotees who only referred as The Host, one of her greatest blessings being immortality and immunity to disease, yet the recipient can still be killed and continue to age until they reduced into mummified husks of their former selves tended by their younger peers.
    • Illusion Manipulation: Moder can conjure realistic illusions upon her intended target(s), be it to force them relieving their worst memories, conjuring illusory constructs based on memories in question.
    • Shapeshifting: On the same vein with Loki, Moder can assume many forms in a blink of eye which she rarely demonstrates. The latest known instance of this was when she initially assumes the appearance of Dom's wife only to unveil her true form as she executes him.
    • Marking: Moder can magically mark those she chose to be her new devotee as she did to Luke and members of her cult.
    • Personal Domain: Moder has established her pine forest domain as the very place in which she has absolute power for quite a while, making the entire area an extension of her very being. The downside of this ability is that the Jötunn is powerless over everything outside her forest.
      • Limited Omniscience: Moder possesses the ability to have unlimited understanding and awareness of everything within ber domain. This is plausibly how the Jötunn to mentally learn about everything in travelers who entered her domain's borders, including their traumatic memories which she could use against them via. conjured illusions in order to sway them into her servitude.

Gallery

Trivia

  • In the book the film is based on, the Creature's name is revealed to be Moder and is a female Jötunn. The film, however, did not disclose either because her worshipers are afraid of mentioning her name and true ge der, only referring to her as "bastard offspring of Loki".
  • Moder means "mother" in several Scandinavian languages.
  • Judging by her name, people suggest that Moder is based on the HP Lovecraft's creature Shubb-Niggurath while others suggest that the creature also may be based on Slepnir, a creature of Scandinavian in the form of eight-legged horse Jötunn she ironically similar most
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