Isaacs Picture Conclusions

THE SACRAMENT (2013) FOUR TOP HATS

SACRAMENT1 I know some of us have had our arguments about the merit of Ti West’s movies – but I’m a big fan of all of them except for CABIN FEVER 2 (but I still don’t think that’s his fault). I REALLY liked this one – but – with all of his stuff – you have to be prepared for a sloooooow burn of a movie and this is no exception. This thing is very slow and, even if the last 15 minutes are absolutely terrifying (not in an “I just shit my pants that was scary” way), they are also very slow and deliberate, but horrifying.  I think you probably already know if you’re going to like this or not, based on his previous films so… I loved it.SACRAMENT2  If you’re not already familiar with the premise here, three guys head into the jungle looking for one dude’s sister. And they’re capturing it all on tape. So – yep – this is one of those found footage movies. Does it work? I think so, for the most part, but I did have a problem with something that I’ll address later. I do want to say one thing – the opening credits are fucking fantastic. I normally don’t even listen to the music in a movie but I LOVED what they did here. It’s not like the footage is that exceptional but the song over the montage – “Heartbeats” by The Knife was PERFECT. I have around five songs on my iPad and this is one of them now, and I listen to it often. I love it. It worked so well setting the tone and gearing me up for this thing. Perfecto! Mustachio!SACRAMENT3 So these guys get to the jungle and find the compound and find the sister and it takes it’s time but we get to a big celebration and we meet the founder of the colony: The Father. What a fucking GREAT choice for this character. Gene Jones is AMAZING in this role. Looking at his resume, I haven’t seen him in much. Looks like he was “Gas Station Proprietor” in No Country For Old Men but I don’t remember that very much. I remember thinking the gas station guy in No Country was the same gas station guy from RAISING ARIZONA but, shit, was I wrong. I guess the fucking egg really is on my face.SACRAMENT4 At the big celebration, AJ Bowen’s character interviews The Father. That’s one of the best interview segments I’ve seen in a while. By the way, I once interviewed AJ Bowen – you could read that HERE if you felt like it. Ever since then I’ve always considered him a pal even though he probably doesn’t remember doing that and might even hate me but I do want to say here that, for fans of his, I think this is his best acting work yet. In my teaser post for this a couple of weeks ago, I praised West and his film-making buddies for doing a good job with the time-stamps on the footage and them making sure the big shot with the clock in the middle were synched, and I give them creds again – good work there!SACRAMENT5 But, out here I want to be honest and try to be objective so, even though I consider West and Bowen my buddies even though they don’t know who I am, I did find a couple of problems here. This might be considered spoiler territory if you want to head out of the room real quick.

So – we all know this is a work of fiction – a movie – but, if we wanted to believe that this found footage was real – where did they get that footage from the other guy’s camera? The last we saw it, it was sitting on that shelf in the shot above. No one ever went back and grabbed it….

Also – for this to be found footage – most of this comes from Joe Swanberg’s camera (and some from another camera as mentioned above). In the big finale, the climax with The Father – who or what is filming Bowen and Swanberg? And where did this footage come from? It’s things like this that can make found footage films frustrating.

And lastly – did the sister HAVE to go out like that? That was kind of an unnecessary sequence after the previous BRILLIANT ten minutes or so.

Overall – I loved it – and those few burps didn’t ruin it for me. I watched it twice while I had it rented and will totally do it again.  Aside from one little thing, the last twenty minutes or so of this are fucking amazing (and horrifying). BRAVO!

52 comments

  1. I have been so so on West’s products, but do appreciate his approach as a filmmaker. I’ll see this. I may not love it, but there is a real place for his work with everything else in the horror market being big, showy, and lacking much nuance

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  2. Dear Spock Chop,

    You are really getting me amped for this. Seems you loved it, truly, and I also want to know! Excellent work here as always!

    Love,

    JB

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  3. I’m glad you discovered Heartbeats by The Knife on your own because you never would have listened to me if I’d recommended it & told you that it was one of my absolute favorite songs of the last 15 years & that it’s never left my iPod. ; )

    I’ll watch this someday so didn’t fully read everything…

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      • I could never hate you! Well, you could stab me in the face and I would be greatly displeased. I did not, however, care for this movie. It was literally the story of Jim Jones and Jonestown (almost verbatim). It wasn’t a bad film, I was just hoping for some originality. But Gene Jones was excellent, and I’m really glad that you enjoyed it.

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      • theipc

        I WOULD NEVER STAB YOU. Not in the face, or anywhere else. We need to stick together!

        Well POOP. Oh well! We’ll always have House of Whipcord.

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  4. garylee828

    I watched this a few weeks ago based on you and Ryan’s recommendations. I thought it was good, and I also liked Gene Jones’ performance here, as well as “I need to know what I stand to win” in his tense and immaculately written and acted scene w/ Javier Bardem. I always thought that scene was well-done. Strong directing from the Coens, there.

    I think AJ Bowen was pretty good in this, as well. I actually think everyone was good, including Joe Swanberg who is always hit-or-miss; he can be good in some roles, and terrible in others. The sister in here was also very good; what a creepy performance, just the way she talked about “Father”.

    The one thing I do disagree with you about is I didn’t find it slow at all. I think it had the perfect build-up. I don’t watch movies for action, gore or slaughters. I want an intriguing story – and this one suffices. *Also, you knew this film was based on a true story, right? The “Jonestown Massacre” in 1978. After seeing this movie I watched a documentary on YouTube telling the tale, and it is quite disturbing!

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    • theipc

      I’m glad you brought that up – Swanberg is ALWAYS an iffy choice but I thought he did good in this one.

      This is the perfect pace for a movie for me – slow and easy wins the race IMO. I think that’s why I like West’s movies so much.

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  5. Pingback: Rapid Review: The Sacrament (2013) | The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger

  6. I watched this the other day and frickin loved it. One of the best horror films of the past year or so, though you can barely call it horror in some ways. I had a physical reaction to the ‘big’ sequence at the end. Was clenching my fists. Very full on. Haven’t seen any of Ti West’s other films, but will try and check them out now.

    Liked by 1 person

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