Director: Ti West
Starring: Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Kentucker Audley, Gene Jones, Amy Seimetz
Live as one. Die as one.
A fashion designer named Patrick received a letter from his sister Caroline inviting him down to a place down in South America that she calls Eden Parish. This place is supposed to be a community outside of society, where people actually work together and care for each other.
Together with his friend and news reporter Sam they head down there to find out if Caroline is ok. What they encounter is a society that at first seems peaceful, but when they meet the leader of the group, a man that the rest simply call “Father”, they begin to suspect that not everything is at it should be at Eden Parish.
The Sacrament is the latest effort by Ti West, a genre filmmaker that most people seem to be fond of. Although he seems like a guy that loves the genre and isn’t afraid to try new things, his movies so far has not worked for me. So if you loved The Innkeeper and The House of the Devil, then I’m probably not the one you should listen to when it comes to his movies as I didn’t care that much for either of them.
And yet I decided to check out this film, mostly because I liked the idea of seeing a new film tackle the evil cult leader story and see how that will work in modern times. I had read that this would be based on the infamous story of Jim Jones and his cult of followers who made worldwide news back in 1978 when the 913 members of his cult died after ingesting poison.
The story follows the Jonestown tragedy very closely, so people familiar with that story will be familiar with what’s going on and what’s going to happen in this film. That sadly does make it a bit predictable and it’s hard to get shocked or affected by what’s happening on the screen. It was also much more interesting to see the story told by focusing on the cult leader in Guyana Tragedy than seeing these two friends head down to the community to find out what’s going on there.
It also doesn’t help that the characters of Jake (Joe Swanberg) and Sam (AJ Bowen) are a bit simple. They do a decent enough job with their characters, but there isn’t that much interesting aspects to them. I guess that does have to do with Ti West going for a very realistic approach to the story, something he does achieve with this film, especially with the way he uses the documentary style of filming (found footage style if you will).
I guess what lacks the most in this movie for me is the fact that it didn’t affect me in any way and I have seen a better movie about the same story – The Guyana Tragedy. I think that this will suit modern audiences that aren’t that familiar with the Jim Jones story the most, while experienced fans of the shocking and macabre will most likely find this to be a bit tame. The Sacrament isn’t a badly made film, but as with West’s previous efforts it just doesn’t click with me.