Archive for Joe Swanberg

THE SACRAMENT (Magnet VOD) – The Devil in Sheep’s Clothing or the Great Kool-Aid Social

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 07/08/2014 by Dr. Jimmy Terror

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There are moments when you watch a picture when you really forget that your sitting in front of a screen. It doesn’t happen to me all that often most likely because I watch a quite a lot of colorful schlock that possibly be confused with reality. I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer horror that has an element of pure fantasy, horror that would in all likelihood not happen. The trend these days is to shoot for hyper realism. One way in which folks have attempted to achieve this really real world thing is by using the found footage or POV style of shooting. To the accomplished filmmaker who understand how to use it properly it is an effective way to capture an audiences attention, putting them in the driver seat and creating an experience that they feel they could possibly have. Of course you have to be wary; nearly anyone can take a home video camera and make a movie that supposedly has a narrative with a story told from behind the lens. Viewer beware. My favorites films to be shot in this style typically are far removed from reality or have an element of the supernatural. That’s why I rather enjoyed the V/H/S anthology and its sequel (a divisive thing to admit to be sure). Then comes Ti West’s new picture, The Sacrament, a highly effective work based on some really real world events, shot in the POV/found footage style, but wholly lacking the fantastical. It’s an outlier for me; a movie that I might not normally have enjoyed because it’s almost too real to be entertaining but that I’m happy to report that I enjoyed. The trailers didn’t lie. The poster art that captivated me through the advertising campaign were effective and honest, and I’d like to submit it for one of the best movies that I’ve seen this year.

Synopsis from Magnet:

From acclaimed writer/director Ti West (THE INNKEEPERS, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL) and master of horror Eli Roth (THE LAST EXORCISM, HOSTEL, CABIN FEVER), THE SACRAMENT follows two Vice Media correspondents as they set out to document their friend’s journey to find his missing sister. They travel outside of the United States to an undisclosed location where they are welcomed into the world of “Eden Parish,” a self-sustained rural utopia, comprised of nearly two hundred members. At the center of this small, religious, socialist community is a mysterious leader known only as “Father.” As their friend reunites with his sister, it becomes apparent to the newcomers that this paradise may not be as it seems. What started as just another documentary shoot soon becomes a race to escape with their lives.

I enjoyed the characters created by strong performances from the ever talented AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg and crew.  Gene Jones steals the show with an alluring and terrifying performance as Father, the Jim Jones type cult leader that is so charismatic, you know he’s pure evil but you can’t help but love him. He humbles you. He will get under your skin for certain, and though I have not heard of him before I look forward to his future work (he was also on House of Cards recently which might appeal to some of you cool cats). Amy Seimetz’s performance is another true creep out. This woman can play cult follower like few I’ve seen. Rigid in conviction and with pure sympathetic passion that feels almost pitiable and says, “I am strong enough to make it now, I have a new, living crutch”.  Even the extras convey a feeling of blind desperation and warm, unencumbered optimism that I completely fell into the picture.
Some folks hate the found footage/POV perspective, and for those of you that find this unenjoyable I can’t say that The Sacrament will fix that for you.  This movie follows documentary/expose filmmakers into the jungle. It only makes sense to use the camera they have as the screen eye for the film. I find that the style was effective and gave great moments of suspense. I’d hate to compare it to The Blair Witch Project because there is disdain associating movies to BWP, but I love that damn movie, and I think that it builds tension in much the same way. Complete blackouts with hints of light and figures in the shadow. The best part… most of the big bad shite happens in the daylight. That’s like being terrified with your eyes open and when pulled off, can almost be scarier than nighttime terror. Overall I like the shooting style and would say that this is one of the stronger uses of it in the last couple of years.
Good effects (especially when the thing kicks in to high gear). Excellent score choice. Ti West seems to know how to pick ’em. While I have enjoyed West’s other works to varying degrees, I’m now torn between enjoying House of the Devil or The Sacrament more. That’s not a bad problem to have. The one thing to note is that if you think you know what’s going to happen… you probably do. It’s not like the advertising has hidden it. It’s the WHEN that will get you. It’s the how, and it’s the feeling of realism that will taunt you. So while the trend may be to try to achieve realism, The Sacrament’s only element of fantasy only lies in the adage, truth is stranger than fiction. This film really puts a mirror up to a reoccurring theme in history and a dangerous disease in the human condition. Charisma can kill.
You can check out The Sacrament on VOD now. It’s wholly worth it. I plan on picking up the release on DVD or Blu-ray and will be excited to see some behind the scenes footage. As Ti West has said in his most recent requests, don’t pirate it. Pay for it. Let’s get more movies like this with wider theatrical releases or at least keep our VOD options open.
This is the second movie in the very unofficial wilderness horror series this year. At least that’s how I’m referring to them from here on out because they truly seem to have the environment as a common nexus.  The first being Wolf Creek 2 and Green Inferno being the third coming out in September. Gary McLean, Ti West and Eli Roth (also a presenter on The Sacrament)… keep scaring me. Keep entertaining me.

 

For more info:
Official Site: http://magnetreleasing.com/thesacrament/
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thesacramentfilm
#SACRAMENTFILM
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