Ti West's The Sacrament has garnered strong reviews.
While Ti West's latest horror movie The Sacrament is careful to declare that it's a work of fiction, anyone familiar with recent history will notice the strong similarities with real events in Guyana in 1978.
The Sacrament is Ti West's latest horror
The Sacrament is set at the Eden Parish religious commune in an unnamed country with some 200 parishioners. But everything else is pretty much identical with the Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana, which had nearly 1,000 residents who had sold everything they had to establish an agricultural paradise in a jungle clearing.
More: read our full review of 'The Sacrament'
Both stories erupt into violence after the communes are visited by outsiders. West is of course making a horror movie, so he lets his plot spiral into something darkly frightening, building strong characters while letting the bigger issues linger in the subtext. But anyone who has seen the various documentaries about the events in Jonestown knows that the real events were even more horrific.
In November 1978, US Congressman Leo Ryan led a delegation including TV news journalists to check out the community in Guyana. There they met a handful of defectors and, as they attempted to leave, the increasingly paranoid cult leader Jim Jones had his security forces attack the visitors, killing Ryan and five others before the largest mass suicide in history, in which 918 people died.
Even while reducing the scale for The Sacrament, Ti West had plenty of factual nastiness to work with. And unlike previous films like The Innkeepers or The House of the Devil, he didn't even need to resort to the supernatural for terror. Sometimes truth is scarier than fiction.