original title: La Setta
aka: Demons 4, Demons 4: The Sect, The Devil’s Daughter
Director: Michele Soavi
Starring. Kelly Curtis, Herbert Lom, Mariangela Giordano, Michel Adatte, Carla Cassola
Satan has chosen his victims. The battle with evil has begun.
It’s the summer of love in California in the late 60’s and a group of hippies are living the quiet life out in the desert, away from the busy civilization. Their peaceful life gets interrupted when a gang of devil worshippers come across them and ends up slaughtering them all.
Fast forward to the present day in Frankfurt, Germany where the country is being filled with bizarre ritual murders. The young school teacher Miriam almost hits an old guy in the middle of the road, so she offers him assistance in making sure that he is ok and brings him home with her. The old man suddenly dies in her home and this is causing her to be haunted by the evil of the same sect that slaughtered the hippies in the late 60’s.
The Sect is the second production that Michele Soavi directed and Dario Argento produced. Together with his earlier effort Stagefright and his follow-up to this film, Dellamorte Dellamore, Soavi looked for a while to become the next big horror director from Italy. But sadly, there wasn’t much room for Italian genre films during the 90’s, so Soavi ended up working more on television projects.
The Sect feels like an updated Italian version of Rosemary’s Baby, but it is done so weird and bizarre that it becomes way more than a simple homage or ripoff. The story is told in a very surrealistic way that will surely put off plenty of people, but for those who can enjoy films that doesn’t have a regular narrative it shouldn’t be a big problem. It can be compared to Suspiria in that way that the evil magic is present in nearly every scene, even if all the details of it isn’t explained. There is a lot of use of symbolism in the film, but the meaning of it all is up for the viewer to come up with.
The surrealism works because of the way the film looks. It’s almost like watching a nightmare on film and it is quite an enjoyable experience. There is a lot of disturbing scenes that might shock some who are not that familiar with the way Italian does horror, including a rape scene with a stork(!?!). All of this is done beautifully and watching this again now in 2013 makes me miss the good old times of the Italian horror cinema.
It does become a little too much since it runs for nearly two hours though and it could have benefitted from being shorten down a bit. The opening scenes also makes me wish that Soavi did make a Charles Mansonesque movie, since the hippie sequences are very intriguing. The acting is above average for these films. I liked Kelly Curtis as the leading character Miriam and Herbert Lom was excellent as the old guy she comes across. Also look out for genre hero Giovanni Lombardo Radice in a smaller part.
The Sect is a very underrated film that shows the potential that Michelle Soavi has. I do wonder if this film would be held in greater regards if it was in fact directed by Dario Argento instead. If you are a fan of weird Italian films such as Suspiria, then give this one a go. It is a bit too long, but still has enough bizarre stuff to keep you entertained for nearly two hours.