Ti West has become a bit of an interesting filmmaker to me, I like when he takes his time with his storytelling, and doesn’t feel he has to rely too heavily on jump scares and blood, like in The House of the Devil, and my personal fave of his films, The Innkeepers.
Well, available on Blu-Ray and DVD today is his latest directorial effort, which he also wrote and edited, The Sacrament, and this one is perfectly creepy and unnerving as we examine yet another facet of the human monster.
Sam (AJ Bowen) and Jake (Joe Swanberg) are documentary filmmakers for a channel called VICE, dedicated to covering controversial stories that are ignored by the mainstream media, and doing so in a balanced and objective way. When a photographer friend of theirs Patrick ( Kentucker Audley) reveals that his sister, Caroline (Amy Seimetz) has run off and joined a small religious group, but is now reaching out to her brother in attempt to patch things up between them, the documentarians see the chance to cover an interesting story.
Travelling to an undisclosed location, they find the gates of the compound, Eden Parish, guarded by armed men, which immediately sets them on edge. Once inside, they find things are not exactly how they appear, and that they may be in danger.
A modern-day Jonestown is being set up before them, which isn’t much of a spoiler, because anyone who knows anything about the subject matter can see that coming a mile away, but it’s how the story unfolds that makes it as engaging. This film`s Jim Jones-type, is known as Father (Gene Jones), and he is truly unnerving. There is a sense of creep, dread and menace under everything he does as he watches us through the camera behind the safety of his beliefs and his dark sunglasses.
Happily, though all shot POV, the filmmakers are supposed to be experienced, so there isn’t a lot of shakey cam throughout the film. And the film itself, looks great, outside of the equipment used to film it, which you barely even see, the film has a bit of a timeless quality to it, in that it could be set during the time of Jim Jones, or today, or tomorrow.
It’s creepy, and unnerving, but not through anything that actually happens, it’s all mood and atmosphere, as the crew begin to realize that there is something seriously wrong in the state of Denmark.
It’s a well crafted film, and definitely has more in common with his work on The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, as opposed to his contributions to V/H/S and the ABCs of Death. It is driven by story and character, and I found it hugely entertaining.
It’s available today, so check it out!