The Sacrament Review
I have been a lifelong fan of horror all my life. But after consuming so much at a time, I find it hard to get scared anymore. Particularly, with the palette of films we are graced with from the genre in recent years. I have a great time with supernatural horror; they are fun exercises of the mind. But deep down, I always go to bed at night and have a sound sleep. Because I know that ghosts, goblins, vampires, werewolves, they are all fake, not real. (At least, as much as well know they are fake ;) ). I always understand that nothing I see in those supernatural’s films can harm me and I sleep sounder because of it.
Tonight, I am little freaked out to go to bed. I am freaked out because I don’t know if I’ll have nightmares or not. I sat down tonight to watch “The Sacrament.” It’s a new independent horror movie by an up-and-coming freight-master named Ti West. West may not be a household name in horror yet, but telling from this film, he is well on his way. If you need further proof, check out “House of the Dead” and “The Innskeepers” on Netflix, as they are both solid horror flicks. Nothing can prepare you for what you are about to see with “The Sacrament” though.
“The Sacrament” worked for me because it taps into two things that get my blood boiling every time. First, from a stylish point-of-few, “The Sacrament” is a slow-burn. There is nothing more terrifying for me than a slow-burn horror movie. We meet the characters of the film right away in the opening seconds of the film, there are a few title cards describing a destination they are going to go to and why. Then they are up and running to that location. Once our characters reach the destination, the dread sets in immediately and the dread will build and build and build. Slowly but surely, you will be plunged into a terrifying and authentic-looking piece of pure horror that is beyond description.
Then Ti West made his horror film about religion. If there is anything that I hate seeing be mixed with horror its religion. I don’t find the existence of religion scary, I just think how some people choose to use it is quite shocking and terrifying at times. I studied history in college, I know all about people dying in grotesque ways over hundreds of years over religion, that’s a creepy thought. That is a very, very creepy thought. It also terrifies me how some people use their religion for their own purposes and motives, how they push their own beliefs on people, they you are looked upon with scorn simply for thinking in a different way. It scares me how somebody can be so committed to something that they shun off everything else that could possibly be important. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying religious people are scary, but I think we all have come across one or two overbearing people who have attempted to push their views on us. I think that is why I am so open-minded about different faiths. I truly find it fascinating how many different faiths there are and how they are separate from each other. I just wish some people didn’t use that in questionable ways.
“The Sacrament” tells the story of Sam (AJ Bowen) and Jake (Joe Swanberg), two journalists for the News company called VICE. This news castor finds stories that we would all specifically find taboo, and their purpose is to shed light on them. One of their collaborators named Patrick (Kentucker Audley) has a sister who had some troubled times in her life and went to get clean. Though Patrick and her family have not heard from her for several years, suddenly a note is delivered to Patrick’s door, detailing that his sister joined a church group which relocated to a remote place in the lonely jungle of South America. Patrick desperately wants to find his sister and the VICE crew go with him to get to the bottom of the church group. They are brought to Eden Parish where everyone seems very happy and cozy. But that obviously means that something sinister lies beneath all the rainbows and sunshine. Oh boy, does it ever.
The work done by Bowen, Swanberg and Audley is all very good. Ti West, AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg were just some of the names that were involved in the horror anthology “V/H/S” that came out in 2012. If you loved that movie, I think you should really give “The Sacrament” a try. All three actors are very good in it. Gene Jones plays Father, the leader of Eden Parish, and Jones does incredible work as well. You may remember Gene Jones from his very small role as the gas station clerk in 2007’s “No Country For Old Men” but he’s come a long way in just a few years. There is an interview scene between Jones and Bowen that is just absolutely electrifying, easily the highlight of the film. I hope we see more of Gene Jones in the upcoming future, because I feel he is a rare talent that could find his footing.
The reason I am not gushing over “The Sacrament” is that even though it is very scary, the story itself is pretty straightforward. Once the movie really gets rolling, I think you will be able to guess exactly how the film finishes. The film is set up like a false documentary, not exactly the same vein as found footage. So get some ease knowing that not EVERYBODY in the movie is a goner. Even though the film is pretty predictable, the tension that West racks up on the way to the film’s conclusion is enough to sit through. Any movie that has my jaw at the floor is something to note. The last twenty minutes or so of the film are nearly hard to watch, simply because of how realistic it is shot, and the score by Tyler Bates only amplifies the tension you will be feeling.
“The Sacrament” works for me because West hit a lot of notes that get under my skin and he did so with talent and effort. I know not every formula works on the same person, and you may sit through this one with genuine ease. Still, I think “The Sacrament” is still worth a look. This is a movie that will set you on edge, even if you do know what is coming or not.
FINAL GRADE: B