I’ve never been more confused about a director than I am with Ti West. I absolutely loathed what he did with Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, I loved House of the Devil and his segment, ‘Second Honeymoon,’ in the anthology film, V/H/S/, was letdown by his The ABCs of Death contribution, ‘M is for Miscarriage,’ and was underwhelmed by the slow-burning The Innkeepers. The thing is, I really want to enjoy his work. So, I keep coming back for more, hoping to find a masterpiece waiting for me. His newest film, The Sacrament, had Eli Roth attached to it, so my excitement was through the roof for this one, and luckily, I got [more of] what I wanted, this time around!
Patrick (Kentucker Audley), a reporter for Vice, has received a strange letter from his sister, Caroline (Amy Seimetz), from some religious compound where she has been staying. He agrees to allow his cameraman, Jake (Joe Swanberg), and fellow reporter, Sam (AJ Bowen), to accompany him on his trip to find the compound and see what his sister has been up to. They are taken to a remote jungle, to ‘Eden Parish.’ What seems at first like a secret paradise, turns into a very scary place, shortly thereafter…
The premise of this story is actually very reminiscent of that explored in two other recent horror films, Holy Ghost People and Children of Sorrow, which are also about, you guessed it, religious cult-like sects. The Sacrament manages to pull off that same real-life terror element that the other two films were able to touch upon. While HGP didn’t have that profound of an effect on me, Sorrow and now Ti West’s film have really shaken things up. I’ve stated it in the past, but it deserves reiteration. Nothing is ‘scarier’ in horror films than something that can actually happen; The greatest terror comes from reality, and Ti West has managed to create a false utopia (in the words of Eli Roth), only to pull the rug out from under you, bringing calamity to your TV screen in its purest form.
I’ve quickly become a fan of the group of actors and filmmakers that seem to be working together often. I loved seeing AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg together again, especially working with West and Roth. AJ Bowen does an awesome job not only as the Vice journalist, but also with having a separate behind-the-scenes type of personality. His role was essentially split into two characters and he played them both wonderfully. Gene Jones does an amazing job as the founder of Eden Parish, simply known to his congregation as ‘Father.’ He is known to his following as a type of savior, but viewers of the film can easily tell there is something very eerie about this character, from the first minute we are introduced to him.
All of Ti West’s work I’ve seen have been slowly paced films that you really need to stick it out with in order to get to the good stuff. I normally can’t sit around and wait with films like that, but my desire to like his work greatly outweighs my impatience. He is not an overly gory director, although he can be, and The Sacrament, although it does have its bloody moments, is not excessively gory either. The film’s ability to touch on different nerves than just your gore-sensors is where the magic really comes from.
If you are a fan of Eli Roth or Ti West, I definitely recommend checking The Sacrament out. It will be available on Tuesday, August 19 from Magnet Releasing on Blu-Ray and DVD, so be sure to pick up your copy.
I give it 3.5 cups of koolaid out of 5.