"America's coming apart at the seams!" I've long had an inexplicable fascination with death cults, Jonestown being one of the most significant ones - representing, as it does, the spiritual death of the San Francisco liberal dream. The idea of repurposing the Jonestown Massacre as a modern day Vice documentary is arguably in poor taste, but it's also halfway brilliant. Ti West's film is both punishing and effective.
If Ti West was battling the crippling cynicism of postmodern horror with the classic methods of the 70s and 80s (House of the Devil, The Inkeepers), The Sacrement feels like watching the promising director giving in to immediate sensationalism, losing any sense of tension his previous films had. Couldn't be sadder and angrier, especially when the events it's based on were already so well documented on television.
I was engaged from start to finish, but it was by no means perfect. The biggest flaw were the lifeless characters - the one exception being Father, who was thoroughly chilling. The commune set itself felt unexplored and the first-person style was patchy at best (though the nighttime photography was quite haunting). West says absolutely nothing as usual, but it still it held my morbid attention.
I saw this film at a festival and honestly do not have enough space to express how much I hate it. I met Mr. West before hand and though I was in for a scary cult film. Instead I saw what could have passed as a bad reenactment of the Jonestown massacre. A horrible and well known tragedy.I walked out.
Falls victim to many of the same tropes that plague so many found footage movies (camera always happens to be in the right place at the right time; slow, directionless early scenes; excessively chaotic and aggressive later scenes). The cult and their crazed leader were not particularly memorable, compared to, say, Kevin Smith's Red State, nor did it offer any kind of insight. Disappointment from a talented director.
Imagine seeing a film about how Jews were persecuted in Hermany. About Hermany's leader Gitler and his antisemism. That's how subtle this film is - as much as a sledgehammer hitting you over the head. On the other hand, I could not stop admiring Amy Seimetz, who's good even in a piece of junk like this