I have a disturbing attraction to movies based off of disturbing real-life events. The Sacrament is one these films, and loosely based on the Jonestown Massacre of 1978. For once I may have found a gem in the rough stone-work of found-footage movies.
One of our three main characters in the movie, Patrick, receives a letter from his sister, Caroline. She is staying in the secluded Eden Parish, which has helped her with her drug problem, and is a sort of utopia away from civilization. Intrigued, Patrick and three of his co-workers, Sam and Jake, decide to investigate further and film the event. All three men work for Vice magazine and see this as in interesting story for the publication.
Once they arrive at the idyllic location nothing appears as it should be. The three men are met by armed guards, most residents of Eden Parish refuse to be interviewed, and Caroline is overselling the community a little too much. That evening the men are allowed to interview the leader of Eden Parish, a man simply known as Father. Once the evening is over, Sam is handed a note by one of the residents that not all is as it seems.
The Sacrament starts off slowly, but once it gets going you’re in for an interesting journey. It’s filled with some horrendous acts and implied deeds, which means it’s not for the feint of heart. There are a few twists and turns along the way and it comes to a decent conclusion. Unlike the majority of found-footage films the acting, script, and camera work are all decent. It seems as if a decent amount of work was put into this film and this wasn’t come college student’s lazy submission.
I do think calling it found-footage is untrue. The movie is a hybrid of found and standard / steady camera work. The found-footage shots are used for perspective from our three characters, while standard camera work shows us everything else taking place. It’s a decent concept, but I feel it should have rather stuck to steady cam. At times the transition isn’t quite clear and you many wonder why a random character has a different perspective.
Overall there’s not a lot I can fault with The Sacrament. It is – at its core – a decent enough movie and plot. It may not be great by any standards, but it’s not terrible either. I’d recommend watching it if you’re a fan of thrillers, and giving it a rent as well. Hey, maybe even pick it up if you can find if for a good price.