When Patrick (Kentucker Audley) gets a letter from his sister Caroline (Amy Seimetz) asking him to come and visit her at the commune-like Eden Parish, he brings along two of his colleagues from VICE to document their reunion.
The community that they find seems idyllic at first, but when its imperfections start to come to the surface, a terrifying chain of events is begun.
I didn’t know anything about the events that this film is said to be based on, so I may have approached it with fresher eyes than, say, an American viewer might have. Because of this, I found myself being taken along by the story, knowing that something was going to go wrong, but not knowing what exactly was going to happen. I guess the fact that I never really looked at the poster properly helped, too.
For the most part, I think that The Sacrament is a successful film. The pacing is good, and the tension is ratcheted up in a way that first has you asking yourself whether you actually read a scene the right way, and then pays off those earlier inklings of something being not quite right. I even think that the documentary-style filming (I don’t think it meets the right criteria for ‘found footage’) helps to develop the characters, who are – for the most part – acted out in ways that make them believable. So, there’s actually a lot of positive things to say for this movie.
Where things are a little less successful is – you guessed it, I’m sure – in the final act. This is the point at which the necessities of a movie narrative start to lead one of the cameramen in directions that don’t really make sense for a character in their situation, in order to hit certain necessary plot points. And while Amy Seimetz does a pretty great job with her character, I’m not sure if anyone else quite hits the emotional notes that seem appropriate for the situation. This brought me out of the story at the point where I should have been most engaged.
Still, despite a bit of a lackluster ending, I do think that it was worth watching The Sacrament. A mostly solid story and some decent acting made for a movie-watching experience that I don’t regret – which, all things considered, is some pretty good praise at the moment!