The Sacrament Reviews
Eli Roth notes that Jonestown inspired this story. Yet, this inspiration is actually nothing but a complete rip-off of history. I looked up Jonestown since I liked this movie so much. I found out that Eli Roth copied real life, every little detail of Jonestown, and has tried to pass it off as his own idea. Just watch the extra features. They go on about how interesting his idea was and his creative vision, and the mention of Jonestown feels like a throwaway line.
"Father," clad in his dark glasses, IS Jim Jones. Not a clever character. Jim Jones was called "Dad" and wore dark glasses almost all of the time. The set (which was described heavily as Eli Roth's vision) is the same as Jonestown, down to the picket fence of the daycare, the chair and table featured on the DVD cover, and the elevated huts. If that weren't enough, "Father's" final monologue to his people in the pavilion is nearly identical to that of Jim Jones' on the infamous "Death tape" provided by the FBI. Which also took place in a pavilion.
Not to mention the media aspect. Not to mention the heavy focus on seniors, African Americans, and poor. Not to mention that the metal vat used to mix the potion (which Jim Jones called the poison too) looks just like the metal vat used at Jonestown. You know how "Father" ends a lot of his sentences by calling Sam "friend"? Jim Jones uses the same phrase in an interview on the day that 909 people lost their lives. I could go on and on.
At the very least, Eli Roth should have paid respects to Jonestown. He should have been upfront with how closely he followed history instead of trying to pass his "unique and horror filled" plot as his own. Even if I did like the acting somewhat, it's not enough for me to overlook the serious disregard and disrespect this has for Jonestown.
Why not just make a Jonestown movie? It'd have saved him the trouble of thinking up the one or two original points.
Is that something I should let negatively influence my opinion on the movie? I don't know, it seems pretty classless, but I don't think I should. Thankfully, the point's moot because I really didn't care for The Sacrament at all.
My distain for modern situation with Found Footage Horror is (no pun intended) well documented. I'm just generally turned off by the whole thing. Here, Ti West manages to take that distain up to another level. Constantly throughout the course of The Sacrament, there are scenarios which make absolutely zero sense from a found-footage standpoint. Decisions are made to have a score in the more intense scenes, as well as shooting from more angles than they have cameras, or to keep the audio running at pace, while the cameras jump from place to place. The end result of this means that we don't have a Found Footage Horror (which typically would be bad enough) but instead we are treated to a regularly-filmed movie, except that the camera is poor quality, constantly shakes, and actors constantly look straight into the lens, removing any suspension of disbelief you could possibly hope to garner from The Sacrament.
The people involved with the film have all been pretty hit and miss in the past. And even contained within The Sacrament, the actors themselves are hit and miss. Arguably more hit, but unfortunately the misses are at the times when it matters most. There's some cringe-worthy bad reactions in the climax of the movie, especially from the leads.
The Sacrament is not enthralling, and I personally, was very disappointed, even separating myself completely from the Jonestown Issue.
I'm not a huge fan of Ti West's previous work and I was not interested at all in this film, also because the poster is kinda boring; but I like the cast so I decided to see it. It boasts a very talented cast that was also involved in the movie You're Next, such as: Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen and Amy Seimetz. The Sacrament left me very surprised and satisfied. In my opinion this is the first film directed by Ti West that is not boring. I enjoyed it so much, it is found-footage done well. In my opinion, The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers were two of the most boring horror films I've seen, of course they are good movies, but both of them have too many suspense and nothing interesting happens in 80% of their running time.
I've seen a lot of crappy found-footage movies this year and most of them sucked, such as: Alien Abduction, Delivery and Mr. Jones. Unlike them, The Sacrament is that rare found-footage film that succeeds. It has huge premise that is very well handled by this talented director. It's based on a true story called "The Jonestown Massacre" and that makes the film scarier. Of course it has some flaws especially in its second half, but the violence and the whole atmosphere of the film compensates for its flaws. I'm glad that I didn't know anything about this flick, I just pressed the play button without knowing anything about the plot and without watching the trailer, I recommend you to do the same.
The performances during the whole film were superb and believable; my favorite ones came from Gene Jones, AJ Bowen and the best one yet Amy Seimetz! There is actually a tense scene between two siblings, performed by Kentucker Audley and Amy Seimetz, it is one of my favorite scenes in the movie because it was shocking and realistic; the last 30 minutes are wickedly violent, without being too gory. I also like the production value, everything looks good and doesn't look cheap at all. One of the most notable things in The Sacrament is how mysterious and well developed were its characters. Also, "Father" performed by Gene Jones was annoying as hell but in a good way, he holds the greatest moments of the film.
It is thought-provoking at times, in its first half it makes you think about the way of how we live today's life with all those new technologies and stuff. I mean, it has some social commentary very well explained and all of this was quite interesting to me. I give it a 7/10 because it has some plot holes and the second half of the movie was kinda messy. Found-footage movies may be tiresome for some people but in this film this element is very well handled by West, and the presence of the camera is smart and has sense. The Sacrament is one of the best horror films of the year; it is not perfect at all but it shows the power of a leader and how far will he go. It takes to itself seriously and it is painful to watch at times. I really liked it, Ti West has a new fan. [B]
Also Joe Swanberg and AJ Bowen both knock it out of the park playing the journalists investigating Eden Parish.