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THE SACRAMENT (2013): Review…Drink This Kool-Aid

The Sacrament

Ti West’s latest film is nothing short of terrifying. The Sacrament is about Eden Parish, a commune helmed by a very Jim-Jones-esque leader called only “Father” by his parishioners. A photographer, a reporter, and a cameraman, (Patrick, Sam, and Jake, respectively) journey to the remote Eden Parish after Patrick receives a letter from his newly-sober sister, who moved to the parish after her stint in rehab. The men quickly realize that something is amiss in this eerily too-perfect commune.

West, in my opinion, is the modern master of the slow burn; all of his films– The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers, and definitely The Sacrament, are all paced perfectly. The Sacrament is so superbly creepy because for much of the film, we are (for lack of a better phrase) waiting for the shit to hit the proverbial fan. West perfectly creates a sense of building dread by offering us little glimpses into the terrifying abyss into which the film will soon plummet. Every moment is carefully timed and deliberate, which makes the breakneck speed of the final 30 minutes feel exceptionally disorienting.

Gene Jones, who plays the Jim Jones-esque Father, is captivating. His command over his congregation is immediately understandable the moment he speaks: there is something disarming and charismatic about his calculated speech. Somehow, Jones manages to project normalcy on the surface but reveal touches of the real evil lurking below, which is something many actors are incapable of portraying without making it seem forced. Jones is one of the reasons this film is such a success, because his performance makes the notion of joining his cult somehow easier for us to fathom.

Gene_Jones in_The_Sacrament
Gene Jones in The Sacrament

I’ve always been a pretty big fan of Ti West; I’m a fan of cult movies, and I was jonesing (pun unabashedly intended) for another cult flick after V/H/S/2’s incredible segment “Safe Haven,”which is also about religious cult. I was especially excited to see The Sacrament because Eli Roth (another one of my horror heroes) produced it. So, perhaps I am not the most unbiased reviewer of The Sacrament, but I can tell you honestly that it hit all the notes I was hoping it would hit. If you are looking for a “jump-out-and-scare-you” horror movie, this is not for you. However, if you are looking for a disturbing horror movie that will make you want to curl up into the fetal position and cry, this is it! It’s even more terrifying when you understand how alarmingly close it is to the real-life tragedy of the Jonestown massacre, from which West clearly takes his cues.

You can trust my reviews, right? So go ahead, kids, drink that Kool Aid, and check out The Sacrament, which is available on demand now, prior to its selective theatrical release in June.

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Goth weirdo living in LA. Lit geek, horror aficionado, and USC football diehard. Lover of fine wine, good whiskey, and all things bacon. One of my life goals is to die extravagantly in a horror movie so... ya know, hook me up!