‘I bet if I hit the right spot… I can make you scream.’
Religious cult does what religious cults do…
After watching horror director Ti West’s most well known films The Innkeepers and The House of the Devil I commented ‘Ti West has yet to make a great movie but ironically his subtle, 1970′s aping style makes him one of the more original voices in modern Western horror.’ Well he has made a great movie now.
West has a very simple but distinctive style wherein he takes an established horror trope (ghost story in a hotel/girl alone in a house), spends an hour building the tension then ties it all together with a payoff. While he hadn’t quite mastered it with the aforementioned films he completely nails it here.
The tension is less hammer horror and more impending sense of dread leading to a truly nightmarish conclusion. The last twenty minutes are a masterclass in jaw dropping, unadulterated horror proving you don’t need gore to frame something truly shocking. As a leader in the exciting ‘mumblegore’ scene (characterized by low budget production values and amateur actors, heavily focused on naturalistic dialogue).
Ti West is breathing a fresh lease of life into a tired genre by going back to basics. A straightforward story, well acted, well written but still frightening and gruesome to the extent that I found myself watching the conclusion through my fingers. One thing missing from The Sacrament that I LOVED about West’s previous work was how it looks. House of the Devil looked amazing, like a vintage 70s horror but filmed in glorious HD. The barren setting of The Sacrament leaves West limited in his options visually but I am excited to see him tie all his talents into one flick eventually.
The Sacrament also brings the tragedy of ***SPOILER*** the Jonestown massacre to life in a unforgettable and affecting way. The best horror film I have seen since Oculus and the best overall of 2014
Something as innocuous as a man buying a mirror leads to offensively horrible consequences that made me want to cry.
What do you actually look for when you decide to turn off the lights and watch a horror film? A few cheap scares? An overriding sense of dread? Unflinching horror seared into your brain forever? Well then Oculus is for you! Like other recent horror classics 1408, Session 9 and Grave Encounters, Oculus messes with the viewers head as much as the characters. Oculus takes lot of classic elements of the horror genre (haunted item with a history of death and destruction, father turns against family, mirrors in general) and fuses them all together to create something fresh and really rather good. It is gory but not gratuitously so and it plays on our biggest fears (‘I’m not safe in my own home’, ‘What if there was no way to escape’, etc).
One thing Oculus is missing is a great actor. John Cusack turns a pretty naff idea into a modern horror classic in 1408 and Peter Mullan’s performance is the heart of Session 9 but the acting is a distraction in Oculus. I’m not a fan of Dr. Who but I always found Karen Gillan likeable and natural. Here her character is much more of the classic horror film mould of making ridiculous decisions and reacting to things in a completely unlikely way and just being generally unpleasant. There is also zero chemistry between the two main characters despite the fact they are supposed to be brother and sister. Could have been brilliant, ends up just being very good, but definitely genuinely frightening.