Despite all of the flack that “The Blair Witch Project” got later on, I still find it to be a very dense and atmospheric film. It set up the environment and let the audience soak up the emotions the characters were feeling. For other found-footage movies, it could work the other way around, if they had decided to go all-out and not hold back. A few exceptions aside, most cheap found-footage movies tend to stay in the middle. That is why most of them won’t live up to the standards set by “Blair Witch.” While this may not be as iconic, “The Sacrament” takes everybody on one hell of a ride that ends on an unsettling note.

One day out of the blue, Patrick [Kentucker Audley] receives a letter from his sister, regarding her whereabouts. In the message, it says that Caroline [Amy Seimetz] is well and that she has set up a way that Patrick can visit her. His boss Sam [AJ Bowen] ends up going with him in order to get the story on this mysterious place. Upon arrival, the figure simply known as Father [Gene Jones] comes into the picture, and the camp takes on an entirely different meaning. This is a warning beforehand: For all people who don’t have a strong stomach, stay away. Towards the third act of the film, it turns from a slow-burn thriller to a full-out massacre. When I say this, I’m not giving anything away. It should be easy to tell from the trailers that “The Sacrament” is about a cult. While it’s obvious to see that this place is the basis for a religious cult, the difference is in the execution. Our introduction to this entire story is told through text and a VICE reporter. From there, most of what we see is shown through the third cameraman that went on the trip as well. Since the cameraman is supposed to be a professional in his field, he knows how to hold the camera properly. There is some shaky cam, but it’s used in places where it’s easy to understand why. Thanks to smooth transitions from scene to scene, it’s easier to focus on the characters, instead of how much the shaky cam bothers you.

Philip Bergeron / Graphic Design Editor

Philip Bergeron / Graphic Design Editor

For the most part, the acting all-around is good — dare I say great. Out of the three visitors, none of the time is actually spent with Sam. He’s calm and polite, but he’ll ask the hard questions when they need to be asked. For the most part, he acts how any normal person would react to this situation. Then you have Father played by Gene Jones. I don’t recognize this actor from anything in his filmography, but I will always remember him for this role. The moment he appears on-screen, he gives off this real uneasiness that’s hard to shake. He commands a presence like he has just gained total control of the room.  From the moment the interview starts between Sam and Father, it becomes a battle of wits. Until the third act, Father remains a mysterious, yet menacing figure. For the last half-hour, his true self comes out in the most horrific way possible.

Despite all these praises, there is one thing that bothers me. “The Sacrament” is eerily based on the events of the Jonestown Massacre that took place in 1978. The events are so similar that the resemblance is uncanny, and the fact that the real event wasn’t mentioned at all bothered me a little bit. My only other complaint is that, while the third act is very disturbing, it doesn’t  have that much of a lasting impression.

Having said that, when it gets to this point, it’s almost impossible to predict what’s going to happen next.  If audiences are able to handle other horror films, “The Sacrament” should work out for them just fine. Great acting and a tense atmosphere makes for an above-average found-footage movie.

Rating: B


Matt Bilodeau can be contacted at 

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