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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sean Kelly

TIFF13: My Thoughts on The Sacrament

sacrament

Director Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) returns with a faux documentary look at a cult located in an undisclosed location outside of the United States.  Sam (A.J. Bowen) is a correspondent for Vice Magazine, whose colleague Patrick (Kentucker Audley) receives a letter from his estranged sister Caroline (Amy Seimetz), who has joined a commune, known as Eden Parish.  Together with cameraman Jake (Joe Swanberg), Sam and Patrick head off to meet Caroline at the commune and document the experience. While Eden Parish seems to be fairly normal at first, things start to feel a little off when the gang meets the commune’s leader Charles Anderson Reed, aka Father (Gene Jones).  Slowly the three begin to realize that there is a dark underbelly to this supposedly friendly community.

The Sacrament is a horror movie of a different breed for Ti West, since the threat is very much a human one.  I thought this was a refreshing change from his previous two films, which featured supernatural elements to them. In some ways, a film like this is much more scary than any supernatural subject, since the horror is something that can definitely happen in the real world.  In fact, it is quite obvious that the film is inspired by a famous real life cult, though I don’t want to reveal too many details in fear of spoiling how this film turns out.  I will say that the character of Father is one creepy character, especially when it comes to his distorted worldview and his ability to influence others to share his point of view.  By the time the sacrament of the title comes along, you will have a full idea where things are heading.

While technically you can consider The Sacrament to be a found footage film, the film seems to be shot more conventionally than most films of this genre.  In fact, I can only think of a couple moments where the film utilized shaky cameras, which has become a cliché of these types of films.  The film even cleverly switches to two cameras at one point, in order to show different angles.  Of course, the style of the film is not perfect and there was even a scene towards the end of the film, in which I was scratching my head wondering who was shooting the footage, since all the characters were on screen.

I have to say that I overall found The Sacrament to be a tense and enjoyable film.  Like Ti West’s previous films, the action starts off relatively normal, only for the horror to build as the film progresses.  While the direction the film takes is a little on the predictable side, it doesn’t make the events any less horrific.

8 | LIKED IT

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).