The Sacrament is a thinly fictionalized telling of the Jonestown Massacre from the late ’70s in which almost a thousand people died together by suicide as per the wishes of a fanatical religious zealot. Ti West helms this found footage tale of two online magazine reporters who assist a man in search of his sister, an addict who had found solace in a private religious community known as Eden Parish.
The three of them arrive at this self-proclaimed “paradise” and are initially impressed with what they find. But, the longer they spend in the insulated village, the stranger and more unsettling the reality of the situation becomes. West is known for this supernatural throwback thrillers, like House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, which provide as much fun as they do frights by remaining true to the spirit of classic ghost stories, like The Haunting and The Amityville Horror.
In The Sacrament, he ditches ghosts and bump-in-the-night chills for disturbing examinations of a real life horror story. He mixes the actual events of Jonestown with the aesthetic and gimmicks of The Blair Witch Project, The Master, Red State and Martha Marcy Marlene into a kind of cult movie cocktail that goes down about as smoothly as spiked Kool-Aid. It’s uncomfortable viewing to say the least and will likely stay with you for days after seeing it but it reaffirms West’s rising position as the horror movie director to keep your eyes on.
The Sacrament will be screened as part of CUFF on April 12 at 9:15 p.m.
By Dustin Griffin