The Sacrament

Production Year: 2013
Release Date: 08/19/2014
Studio: Magnet
Director: Ti West

Love it or hate it the found footage film has become a staple of the horror genre and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.  The horror genre is built on formula and sometimes that means a certain type of film can get "done to death."  With that said, I feel that found footage is truly relevant to our time period.  We live in a world where almost every single person feels the need to document themselves in some way (I'm including myself in this statement.)  So in many ways the current popularity of this kind of film makes sense.  Which brings us to The Sacrament, Ti West's newest outing; filmed and edited to mimic a VICE documentary.  A very interesting choice for a director best known for films like The Innkeepers and House of the Devil.  

In The Sacrament two VICE journalists set out to document their friend's trip as he travels overseas to a mysterious camp known only as Eden Parish so he can be reunited with his sister.  The three men (Jake; Joe Swanberg, Sam; AJ Bowen, and Patrick; Kentucker Audley) are greeted with open arms in what seems like a true paradise.  Eden Parish is a self-sustained refuge for people who grew tired of a violent and sinful society.  Everything and everyone were brought together by one man known only as "Father" (Gene Jones).  As you might have guessed, looks can be extremely deceiving and there's something very strange about Eden Parish, something sadistic and macabre.

As the journalist dig deeper they find that people are being held against their will, that "father" is simply another cult mastermind;  A discovery that could soon lead to their demise.  The Sacrament is a fine example of found footage done right.  It's an incredibly suspenseful film with a perfect build up leading to dread-filled finale.  Also important is the fact that it truly does feel like a documentary.  There's an authenticity here, something that is a real breath of fresh air when you consider the genre.

When it comes to this subgenre you typically expect shaky and out of focus shots, but The Sacrament does things a bit differently.  It looks and feels like an actual documentary and while the camera does travel it's no where near "headache inducing."  The picture is pretty solid throughout, and while there has been some post production work applied to give it more of an "authentic" look, the PQ remains pretty high for a film of this nature.  The DTS-HD 5.1 track is also great.  Tyler Bates handles the limited score and the mix is pretty even with dialogue coming through crisp and clear.   

Commentary with writer/director Ti West and actors AJ Bowen and Amy Seimetz

Creating The Sacrament: Revealing the Vision (21:07 HD) - A short making of documentary, interviews with West, Roth, Bowen, and a number of others.  A bit brief but well made making of featurette.

Working with the Director: The Ti West Experience (05:57 HD) - Producer Eli Roth and a number of actors discuss their experience working with director Ti West.

Preparing For Takeoff: Behind the Scenes Helicopter Sequence (04:52 HD) - A behind the scenes look at one of the more intense scenes featured in the movie.

AXS TV: A look at The Sacrament (03:38 HD) - A brief segment about the film.

Ti West proves he's an extremely competent and versatile director with this his latest film.  The Sacrament was a real surprise for me, I went in expecting one thing and came out with something completely different.  The acting is also great with Gene Jones' portrayal of "Father" really standing out.  The editing and score also play a big part helping to create a film that succeeds in feeling like an authentic documentary.  I highly recommend giving The Sacrament a shot.  

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