Parents' Guide to

The Sacrament

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Thriller from cult-fave director is uneven yet effective.

Movie R 2014 95 minutes
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After writer/director Ti West's two great horror movies, The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, his oddly conventional THE SACRAMENT is something of a letdown. It begins with the use of the old "found footage" device, which isn't just stale and inconsistent but also fails to make room for the beautiful, tense compositions that West employed in his earlier films. Secondly, the entire idea is simply borrowed from the real-life Jonestown Massacre of 1978, leaving little in the way of surprise.

Yet West is such an inventive, powerful filmmaker that he still manages to establish some interesting spaces, even with the clunky hand-held camerawork. The blocky cabins, the space between, a pavilion, and darkness, all come into play. Moreover, he gets a great performance from Jones as the avuncular yet slippery Father, giving an interview with sunglasses on and addressing many of his answers to his followers, rather than to his questioner. It's a moment that's so seductive it's genuinely spooky.

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