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The Sacrament: Found Footage Goes West

October 2, 2014

The Sacrament movie poster

I am a big fan of Ti West’s films. House of the Devil and The Innkeepers are the very definition of suspense and atmosphere. His movies have a unique vibe that take well worn genres and make them feel fresh. Roger Ebert had this to say about West.

“He’s an admirer of classic horror films and understands that if there’s anything scarier than a haunted house, it’s a possibly haunted house. The film may provide an introduction for some audience members to the Hitchcockian definition of suspense: It’s the anticipation, not the happening, that’s the fun.”

The Sacrament features zero suspense because you know where it is going. The found footage film never rises above mediocre because there is nothing to care about. I’m not sure why West made this film. He made a name for himself by ratcheting suspense to 11 and not going to expected places. His movies pay off in unique ways and are burnt in your memory. The Sacrament doesn’t strive for being anything other than middle of the pack.

The story revolves around a VICE film crew visiting a cultish camp that is ruled over by The Father. He is a southern gentlemen type who convinced his following to sell all their possessions and move to isolation. Everything on the surface seems perfect yet there is a strange undercurrent of control and fear. There is the obligatory few who say everything is great while one scared child gives them a note that says “help us.”

The Father uses words well and can intimidate the most professional of interviewers. He is obviously trouble and the poster proves it. The biggest problem is how easily the father gives up. He built an improbable village in the middle of nowhere and is foiled by pesky reporters. It all goes wrong too fast and it goes against everything we know about the manipulative father. Did it have to go there? Did he not have a backup plan? Does he have to be so creepy?

The Sacrement Father

Eventually, It all goes wrong and many people die. There is no resolution and the payoff seems too easy. This might sound insane but I like Kevin Smith’s Red State much more than The Sacrament. Red State has its faults, but it also has a surprise around every corner. I had no clue where it was going and the experience felt like a roller coaster of vulgarity, torture, humor and monologues.

The Sacrament follows the A-B-C plot guide of terror. Don’t watch it. Check out The Innkeepers, House of the Devil or Red State instead.



3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 2, 2014 4:52 pm

    Good review. It definitely had promise, but knowing what West is capable of with better ideas in his hands, this sort of felt like a disappointment.


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