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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Thoughts on The Sacrament

I watched The Sacrament, a found footage horror movie directed by Ti West. It is pretty much a recreation of the Jonestown massacre, with the names changed, and following a lot of the events from real life, replacing Congressman Ryan with Vice journalists, and having the journalists come to the cult, interview the leader (who looks just like Jim Jones), and the massacre happening when a few members tried to escape with the journalists.

There were some effectively disturbing parts of the film, and they really worked to capture why people were attracted to the cult, from feeling unappreciated in their lives, and how they were manipulated and brainwashed into believing this was their true family. The leader was very charismatic, and great at gaslighting people and sidestepping uncomfortable questions by twisting the conversation around in his favor.

But sometimes the film would break its own rules with the found footage genre, like switching to a dramatic narrative style with multiple cameras when it was convenient. It took me out of the movie when I would think, "If the journalists aren't in this scene, then who is filming this part now?" It was easy to forget that it was a found footage movie when moments like that would happen.

I like Ti West's throwback style, like with his indie horror film House of the Devil, which has a very early 80's Halloween-style to it, and a slow burn build to a devil possession story. I thought this was good, but really just recreated a famous and horrible event in history while claiming to be fictional with the disclaimer added that any resemblance to real people or events is "coincidental." I probably would have liked the film more if it had been more loosely inspired by the massacre, and told its own story of a tragedy.

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