New To Blu: The Sacrament

Ti West changes it up with his latest release, The Sacrament.

"Hi. I'm super hot and
absolutely crazy. Wanna hang out?"
The Sacrament was released a couple weeks ago on blu-ray and is now available on Amazon Instant Streaming.

Loosely based on the Jonestown Massacre and cult leader Jim Jones, The Sacrament presents a fictional look inside a religious encampment and how the followers are easily manipulated to do the bidding of their self appointed leaders. Although this is a work of fictionalized reality, the topic is one that should be attacked more often and should be the setting for a much better, bigger budgeted movie. Right after watching this, I checked out a documentary on the actual incident. Other than changing when it takes place, The Sacrament follows the true story down to fine detail with some modern twists thrown in for good measure.

The Sacrament portrays a semi-realistic view of how these camps are run and how the weak minded can be molded to do reprehensible things against themselves and their families. It's another new take on the "found footage" formula that attacks the topic of religious cults and mixes it with a fictional episode of Vice. This was a cool twist that made the underwhelming performances and shaky cam a little easier to stomach. Fans of the website and HBO series will be amused by how well they play off the journalistic side of the film. And the dudes playing the Vice crew do a great job of recreating the tone of the news outlet.

"Everybody calm down.
The pizza will be here in 45 minutes."
All that aside, there is one major saving grace. His name is Gene Jones. He does a phenomenal job playing the religious mastermind, Father. This man is a convincing, emotionally vested actor that sets off a series of believable manipulative sparks once he sets foot on camera. His performance alone makes The Sacrament a worthwhile watch and possibly worth a second viewing. Gene Jones should be a much bigger, more prevalent character actor than he is.

As usual, West swings for the fence with a unique idea and comes up just short of something totally cool. Between his horror director cred and Eli Roth's backing as a producer, The Sacrament could have.....should have been his best yet. However, the movie mildly falters with a weak supporting cast and skirts around many of the ideals that these camps run on. For a low budget, handheld camera type of movie, it's just above average.