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Two journalists set out to document their friend's journey to reunite with his estranged sister. They track her to an undisclosed location where they are welcomed into the remote world of "Eden Parish," a self-sustained rural utopia composed of nearly two hundred members and overseen by a mysterious leader known only as "Father." It quickly becomes evident to the newcomers that this paradise may not be as it seems. Eden Parish harbors a twisted secret. What started as just another documentary shoot soon becomes a fight for survival.
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Gene Jones' (strange irony) performance is electric, making the rest of the performers pale in comparison. If the whole film was as good as Jones, this would have been a 4 1/2 or 5 star effort. As it is, it's a reach to spend $9.99 for this, but if and when the price drops, it's worth a watch.
The story felt like it moved quicker than the usual Ti West story, and those who have seen his films know what I mean. We first see Father about 31 minutes into the filmflick and I can say that Ti West wrote him beautifully. His dialogue was amazing, and it not only captivated the filmmakers but captivated myself as well. It is during this long nighttime sequence that the first hint of horror occurs about 15 minutes later, and that is when my heart began beating at an accelerated pace. The pacing picks up and we are constantly bombarded with hints that there is something very wrong going on within the parish. This tension lasts through the remainder of the night and on to the next day, giving us both night and daytime terror. It is during the film’s final act though that the horror reaches its highest levels, and also reveals just the type of film this is. I would not call this a revelation, as it did not feel like a surprise, but considering I did not know what to expect I was left in shock at the film this became. I wish I could explain this better to you but that would be hard to do without delivering some serious spoilers, so let me just say that this “horror” film is hardly a horror film in the end. You can say that the first two acts of the film develop the horror quite well, and we are left to believe that the impending horror will be of a certain nature, but myself and the friend I watched it with were both thrown through a loop when the parish’s big secret was unveiled.
While I am still questioning why Ti West went with this storyline, I must say that his direction was superb. This is his first full-length film shot in the mockumentary format, but this is not a found footage flick. There are no scenes delivered by shaky cameras and because the actors are part of a real film crew we are treated to a professional production and not an amateur one like the Paranormal Activity films. The sets used for the compound were simple but effective and had me feeling immersed into the community with our protagonists. There are some fair character performances, but nobody topped Gene Jones as Father. His performance was tremendous and if horror had its Oscars I could see him easily snagging Best Actor if nobody else steps up. Amy Seimetz did well as Caroline, but what disappointed me was seeing neither of our lead actors take the reins. You may remember AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg from You’re Next and A Horrible Way to Die, and it appears these guys are regulars within the Adam Wingard circle. Their performances were not bad by any means, but neither served as a commanding presence. The highlights of West’s direction do not stop at his execution of Father, but his execution of the horror. When things got going during the second act he literally had my buddy and I hanging on the edges of our seats, glued to my laptop. His execution during the final act still managed to keep the tension despite seeing where the story was going to take us, and he did so with several gut wrenching kills adorned with solid live gore. West has proved to be a solid director in the genre with at least 4 great full-length horror films under his belt, and all within a 10 year span. The Sacrament may not have been what I expected, but it is great to see his direction is still top-notch.
Overall, The Sacrament is a good film that accomplishes what it set out to do. The problem with this is you are most likely going to get a film unlike what you are expecting. By the end of the experience you will find yourself wondering whether or not this is even a horror film, or a pseudo re-enactment of a famous ordeal from our past. West’s direction is good and his story allows for some good moments of horror, but keep in mind that this may not be for everyone, especially those looking for a solid horror experience like West’s previous films.
The acting was pretty good. I just gave it three stars because it was slow at times and because some of the scenes were very disturbing. I myself am a huge horror fan and at some of the scenes I've had to look away.
If you're into horror movies that have some truth and don't mind the disturbing scenes then this is for you. If you're looking for a full on documentary that is based 100 percent on facts then you will want to look elsewhere.
I am horrible at writing reviews, haha, but hopefully I helped explain the movie a little bit. :)