Thursday, May 22, 2014

[Review] The Sacrament

Indie-horror master Ti West returns this year with the religious cult tale, The Sacrament. It doesn't quite reach the greatness of West's last two efforts The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, but he still proves he's one of the best horror directors of this generation.

Set up as a mock Vice documentary, a video crew travels to an isolated religious community in the middle of nowhere called "Eden Parish". It's lead by a mysterious figure named "Father", who the residents tenaciously worship. The journalists interview various members of the commune, and all of them describe the camp as a peaceful, non-cancerous society--it's the happiest they've ever been in their lives. The crew eventually gets their coveted interview with Father, who is played by relative unknown Gene Jones in a gloriously twisted performance.

The Sacrament is a slightly different angle for West. It still has a crafty cleverness with slow-building suspense and dread, but it trades the nighttime jump scares and supernatural aspects for extreme sicknesses based within startling realism. Shit gets crazy at the end as usual, but the climax doesn't carry the unpredictable punch of The House of the Devil and Innkeepers. However, the events are just as jarring to witness.

Approximately midway through the film, there's a small but significant incident that occurs, completely changing the tide, darkening the tone, and turning up the anxiety. It's best to keep this moment a secret and to refrain from mentioning anything that follows. All I'll say is, "disturbing" is a light way to put it.


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