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A Teenage boy with a passion for all things nerdy! Expect a lot of Doctor Who, Cult/Horror Movies, Literature and Novels, History, Comic Books and random thoughts. Posts published weekly on a Friday evening. DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the items reviewed on this site and i also do not own of the pictures (unless stated so). If you own one of the photos and wish for it to be removed contact me at this adress: Super.pig@live.co.uk. However all of the written work is my own and is protected under copyright law.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Sacrament (2014)

As far as last year’s horror offerings went, I regret to state that I let the side down a little in how many I get to see and exactly what it was I got to see. I saw the big budget monster movie letdown that was Godzilla and the decent but flawed Quiet Ones however smaller indipendant projects slipped very easily under my radar and perhaps due to a desire to catch up on a few Classic Movies, I missed out. Happily though, now we’re into February of 2015 there’s a ton of excellent ‘Best Horror’s of 2014’ Videos on You Tube which make an excellent ‘must see’ guide for last year, should you too have missed out. One which particularly caught my eye was ‘The Sacrament’. I’ve always been a sucker for movies about Cults but not really having read up on the film at all I suppose I suspected the film to have more of a supernatural element than it did. What I got, whilst admittedly unexpected, was bloody brilliant. Brutal, unnerving and truly terrifying in the most disturbing of senses- the Sacrament is an extremely good start on my journey through 2014's Horror flicks. One word of warning though- if you are intrigued, stop reading and go watch as I will be discussing the ins and outs of the film in some depth. Don't even hesitate just go now, you won't regret it.

So the film is partly based on the Jonestown Massacre of 1978 but is not at all a re-telling of those events, it simply is inspired by them. Shot in the hugely popular ‘found footage’ style of filmmaking, the film pretends to be a sort of ‘Mockumentary’ telling the story of a group of reporters who upon discovering a colleagues sister has joined up with what they perceive originally as a Hippy Cult, venture out with him to what they discover is a very different place altogether than what they imagined. Similarly the film itself may not be exactly what the average horror fan imagines. Whilst the violence in the final act of the film is very extreme (with some scenes being intensely brutal) the horror does not lie in that area. The real upsetting parts of this film deal with the character of ‘Father’ and his hold over the people in his community. Contrary to what I expected, this is not a secret Pagan cult masquerading as a Christian one, there are no kidnappings and murders in the name of the lord which many ‘Cult’ themed horror movies seem to rely on. No, the Sacraments success lies in the fact that it’s the story of one man’s power of a group of damaged and good people.

Said man is ‘Father’ played by Gene Jones, a performance which has gained much praise off critics and sorry if this is a little bit predictable but I’m going to give him more. In casting father TI West had on his hands the sort of role that could make or break the film. Cast an actor too weak and the whole film could have fallen apart and casting an over actor would have resulted in the whole film seeming ridiculous. Gene Jones is so believable in the role that you find yourself getting sucked in with what he is saying. Perhaps one of the films greatest triumphs is the interview scene between one of the main characters, Sam, and ‘Father’. Jones in this scene remains subtle throughout, playing the role with such sincerity and warmness but the underlying current of menace in his performance is what makes this one of the creepiest scenes in the entire movie. The dialogue here too is excellent, with Sam asking questions and father just manipulating them so that they become nothing but propaganda for his Cult.

The lead character's as well are also extremely sympathetic- they make believable decisions in a believable scenario. Much of the stories plot relies on strong character scenes and indeed the horror lies here too, something which is always hard to achieve in low budget films but even harder in found footage films- after all how on earth do you justify them carrying the camera around and keep the drama high? Well the Sacrament doesn't, several times the camera is dropped or put down and the film uses this to great effect, the audience not realising that a character is no longer behind it. The found footage element is also extremely well done and never feels forced or suffering from the accursed 'shakey cam' which a lot of these type of films like to incorporate. I think it's a testament to TI West's direction that I didn't feel like I was going to get motion sickness, not something I can say about a great deal of Found Footage films!

One thing that is worth mentioning is the latter half of the film and the extreme violence contained within. One reviewer (Manohla Dargis of the New York Times) commented that the film shifts from Unnerving to ‘hollow after it becomes evident that Mr West is more interested in showing how his characters die than how they lived’. Whilst I would agree that the violence in the final section does get a little much at times (once scene in particular is Clearly intended to be the set piece of the whole film and whilst very well done gets a little extreme and doesn’t seem to end) I would also argue that in this case its necessary. Personally I liked the shift in tone- in fact I’d even go so far as to argue that it reflects the plot, the so called ‘happy community’ and then the hidden violence and darkness rising to the surface.

So after gushing pretty incoherently for a while, I hope I have at least convinced you to give the Sacrament a chance. It’s not to everyone’s taste and has the same vibe as one of those early 70’s Charles B. Pierce movies like The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) and The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976) and similarly to those it is based on a true story. However unlike those films it’s not an adaption of the events it’s based on, it simply uses them for inspiration. Admittedly for some people this may be off putting but I don’t feel that The Sacrament is disrespectful and particularly as it’s not a straight adaptation of the events. The horror is very real and very upsetting and because of this, The Sacrament is nothing short of a modern masterpiece.

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