The Sacrament

"Very Good"

The Sacrament Review


Yet another found-footage thriller, this chilling horror film at least has some solid roots as a fictionalised version of real events. The fact that something like this actually happened (on a vastly larger scale in 1978) gives the movie a lot of weight it might not otherwise have. And the realistic setting and grounded performances help sell the story.

It opens in New York, where hipster magazine reporter Sam (AJ Bowen) enlists cameraman Jake (Joe Swanberg) to travel with photographer Patrick (Kentucker Audley) to visit a mysterious commune called Eden Parish deep in a foreign woods. There Patrick's sister Caroline (Amy Seimetz) is working as the assistant for Father (Gene Jones), who has created a religious paradise far from the crime and greed of civilisation. Of course, the cynical journalists begin to wonder if anything can truly be this idyllic. And sure enough, before the end of the day someone hands them a note that says, "Please help us!"

While there are several potent issues gurgling throughout the story, filmmaker Ti West keeps the focus on the lean, mean scary-movie aspect, adding an atonal score to ramp up an underlying feeling of tension beneath the otherwise beautiful scenes of hippy parishioners living in peace. But the mask begins to slip, and things turn genuinely unsettling before breaking out into all-out nastiness. After the slow and involving build-up, what comes next feels rather a lot more staged. And grippingly terrifying.

The camerawork is clever and telling, sometimes a bit too explanatory (even a seasoned cameraman might stop filming at some point). And the cast members all bring an offhanded authenticity to their roles that makes everything utterly believable. Although this also raises the bigger issues, such as the intriguing thought of giving your life savings to someone who could help you escape violence, poverty and bigotry for good. But West isn't interested in complex motivations or the politics of deception. He just wants to freak us out. And if we want to know what really happened in Jonestown in 1978, we can always look it up later.



The Sacrament

Facts and Figures

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 1st May 2014

Box Office USA: $9.0k

Budget: $4M

Distributed by: Magnet Releasing

Production compaines: Worldview Entertainment, Arcade Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 62%
Fresh: 36 Rotten: 22

IMDB: 6.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Molly Conners, Jacob Jaffke, Peter Phok, Christopher Woodrow

Starring: as Caroline, as Jake, Kate Lyn Sheil as Sarah, AJ Bowen as Sam, Gene Jones as Father, Millie Wannamaker as Eden Parish Member, Kentucker Audley as Patrick, Shawn Parsons as Carpenter, Donna Biscoe as Wendy, Madison Absher as Laundry Girl

Also starring: ,

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