Welcome to the Fourth Annual MASSACRE MARATHON!!!! I’m ecstatic at the very fact that you are reading this because it proves I’m not doing it for nothing! The Ole Manster woke from his hibernation only a few days ago so bear with him. Get ready for more horror movie reviews in the coming month than you could shake a bloody stump at! Without further ado…
The premier film of the month is Ti West’s (Director) and Eli Roth’s (Producer) The Sacrament. Let me start right off the bat with saying that I am a huge fan of West’s The House of the Devil. I might even rank it towards the top of the list of my favorite horror films of the last five years. With that being said I find I am usually disappointed with his other work. The Innkeepers almost put me to sleep and though I absolutely LOVED V/H/S, West’s segment (“Second Honeymoon”) was definitely the weakest of the bunch. The skits throughout The ABCs of Death where flip-flopping hits or misses so forgive me for not remembering if his was any good. As do most avid fans of the genre, I can’t wait to get my hands on anything Eli Roth has touched. So with my Ti/West love/hate relationship and my love/LOVE Eli Roth track record I really didn’t know if I was going to enjoy The Sacrament.
Right from the start I recognized three of the main characters from a movie I had just seen a few months ago. As well as being in this film, Joe Swanberg, A.J. Bowen, and Amy Seimetz are all from You’re Next (in which Ti West also had a short but sweet cameo!). Now Swanberg was the lead in “Second Honeymoon” and Bowen played a creep in the aforementioned THotD. I know I might be making this too hard to follow but I can’t help myself when I find connections between actors and directors and I get sucked down into the rabbit hole and keep digging and…connecting…and…
Sorry- The Manster just needed a Snickers.
Where was I? Oh, I almost forgot to actually talk about the movie I’m supposed to be reviewing! Of course! The Sacrament starts off acting like every other “true story” film does nowadays- “This is the ACTUAL FOUND FOOTAGE of a REAL EVENT that ACTUALLY HAPPENED, WE SWEAR!!!” Then it begins to roll the opening credits with the ACTORS names on the screen. At this point I became skeptical.
What I liked the most about this film is that they got my attention right of the bat by claiming to be reporters from VICE. If you don’t know, VICE is a real (yes, REALLY real) news outlet that started as a magazine, gained steam into having its own HBO series and is now prominently posting mini-docs on YouTube. They are known for taking journalism to the extreme, dark corners of the world where most mainstream media wouldn’t dare shine a light. I’ve enjoyed an abundance of their odd and unique documentaries, and I was excited that The Sacrament was going to feature them in its story. Obviously, they’re actors and are in no way affiliated with VICE, but the prospect got me immediately engaged. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there.
The Sacrament is a movie about waiting for shit to happen. Without going into too many details let’s delve into the plot. I would say there are spoilers ahead, but if you already looked at the poster up top you probably know how this is going to go. The 3-man VICE crew sets off to an undisclosed remote location out of the country (presumably somewhere in South America) to find the one crew-mate’s sister; she had sent a mysterious letter to her brother about her new life at some sort of government-free hippy camp and she wanted him to visit. So the crew gets to Edin Parish and meets up with the sister. They interview a few townspeople and prepare for a big public interview with the Parish’s leader, “Father”. This whole time leading up to and throughout the big interview the music is swelling and churning like something terrifying is happening and the crew is unreasonably getting freaked out. However, nothing happening on-screen is the least bit disturbing and, other than a few smart-ass remarks during the big interview, nothing any of the hippies say has the least bit threatening tone. It seemed to me the movie was trying to create suspense out of thin air and then presume to cram it down my throat! Meanwhile, I’m just sitting there waiting for something scary or frightening or interesting to happen when I start to doze off. Good thing I caught myself though or I would’ve missed the twist ending that nobody saw coming at all!
Shit leads to shat over night and the VICE crew decides they need to GTFO in the morning. When they arise they find a large group of villagers embroiled in a heated argument. Turns out having “outsiders” as guests for one night is enough for certain hippies to want to abandon paradise. The crew gets involved for no reason and tempers flare even further. Father decides that since a few residents had impure thoughts of leaving Eden the whole village should kill themselves. They line up and take their medicine and the Father blows his own brains out while two of the VICE boys escape. I figured I would just explain the majority of the plot in order to save you from watching the entire uninspiring film.
If this was all the filmmakers were trying to say then they shouldn’t have made the film in the first place. They basically copied the source material of Jonestown, an event that took place over 35 years ago, and presented it as “true story”-fiction. Completely dull and non-intriguing, The Sacrament left me with a sour taste in my mouth. I was pumped up for my first night of MASSACRE MARATHON (and I still am!), but I can’t help but feel a little disheartened by what I just viewed. I’m ready to forget about this film and move on to tomorrow.
2 Cyanide-Flavored Kool-Aids out of 5