Originally released in Venice on September 3, 2013 and scheduled to make its worldwide debut on May 1, 2014,The Sacrament is a documentary-style fictional horror story inspired by real life events. Directed and written by Ti West (The House of the Devil) and produced by Eli Roth (Inglorious Basterds), this film is about a cult-like society following the utopian beliefs of a leader they call Father. The audience follows reporters to a Central American compound, where they are hoping to find their photographer’s missing sister. The crew is skeptical when they first discover this utopian village, and their suspicions are confirmed when some compound members beg for freedom.
Starring Gene Jones (No Country for Old Men) as Father and Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies) as the unnerved reporter, The Sacrament will remind viewers of the infamous Jim Jones story. Jones founded the Peoples Temple in 1956. The church was meant to be an ideal communist community with members helping those in need. Jones move the group to an isolated compound in Guyana called Jonestown.
When negative reports of Jonestown started reaching the US Government, Congressman Leo Ryan traveled to the compound where he learned many individuals were being held against their will. When he tried to rescue some members of the Peoples Temple, he was murdered and a mass suicide of all remaining members took place. All in all, 918 people died.
The recently released trailer for The Sacrament indicates that this story will closely mirror that of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. The reporters arrive in Eden Parish to hear praise from all the occupants about how glorious Father is and how wonderful their home is. The compound is self-sustaining, with enough food to keep members happy and healthy, has a medical center to care for them, and probably even has residential plumbing services.
However, as the reporters’ visit goes on, guards with guns man the compound’s fences and parishioners cautiously approach the reporters, begging to leave with them. West’s version appears to be a bit more gory and graphic than the real-life suicide of Jones’ cult. Where Jones’ cult drank poisoned punch, the trailer of The Sacrament shows a massacre, as those hoping to flee the utopian compound are gunned down in cold murder.
On Rotten Tomatoes, The Sacrament received an overall score of 65% with some comments blaming a slow storyline with very little climax. It seems as if one major failure of this movie is its categorization as a horror movie, as it comes across as a suspense-thriller at best. The true impact of this movie comes from its basis in real life. The story of The Sacrament can almost be categorized as a psychological thriller, as it plays upon the audience’s fears that not only can this type of situation happen in the real world, it already has happened.
The Sacrament won the Syfy Jury Prize at the Gerardmer Film Festival in 2014. The film is rated R. While it will be available on VOD in May, the film will not be released in United States theaters until June 6, 2014.