Monday, May 5, 2014
The Vice Guide To The Carter Family Reunion: The Sacrament- Ti West
When I first looked into The Sacrament, I quickly realized it sounded very familiar. Upon further research, and seeing the trailer there was no denying it was in some way a retelling of Jonestown. Since I am a huge fan of murder porn, it was a story I was already very aware of. This made me even more excited. I waited patiently, as I was very curious the route that would be taken. Would it be a very loose interpretation? A biopic? Or was I completely wrong?
It was kind of all of them. The names are different, the places are different, the time is different, but the story is the same. I look at it, as a modern retelling of the story. Think Bates Motel, with a murderous cult, instead of a psychopath learning to jerk off.
I was drawn into the story immediately, so early in fact, that there wasn't even a story yet. The opening subconsciously warned you what you were getting into, even before there was anything to get into. Slow building music, with simplistic credits. This was followed by the set up, which lets you know Vice Magazine was going to do a story on a place called Eden Parish. One of the reporters had received a letter from his sister, who was a member. She invited him to check it out, and two others decided to join him and turn it into an article. From here the film momentarily turns from the tense, horrific story to an actual piece from Vice, at least you assume so. The intro plays out like the Vice TV show, with an upbeat feelgood song from The Knife. This moment is important, as it is about the only time you will breath for the next ninety minutes.
The entire cast sells this. AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, and Kentucker Audley all own their roles as reporters who get caught up in a situation way more dangerous than they anticipated. Amy Seimetz walks the line of recovering sister, and creepy cultist with ease, and Father(coincidentally played by Gene Jones) rides the fence of creepy and likeable in ways not seen since Ted Bundy. These are accented by every other member of the cast. From the smallest walk on role, all the way to the leads.
While this is mostly a story and atmosphere driven film, and even based on a true story. It is also a horror film. There are genuinely shocking moments in it, and the gore might not flow like Carrie White in the shower, but it is there, and it will please even the sickest gore hounds, without isolating the more causal horror viewer.
The Sacrament is slow building, but worth the wait. You won't necessarily notice how slow, as it is told so brilliantly. I could not take my eyes off of it. I am very familiar with the story that it is based on, but I never felt like I was watching a rehash. Every second more gripping than the next. Ti West has yet again made a film that will likely end up on multiple year end lists. I know it will be on mine.