TIFF 2013: The Sacrament Review

The Sacrament

The Sacrament


Director: Ti West

Strangely the most commercial and smartest and thoughtful film yet from Ti West (House of the Devil, The Inkeepers), The Sacrament terrifies simply by feeling as realistically as possible.

A Vice magazine reporter and his cameraman (AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg, respectively) follow a photographer (Kentucker Audley) to document a visit to a mysterious “clean living” camp in a remote location outside the country accessible only by helicopter and one two kilometre dirt road, and protected by heavily armed guards. There to visit the photog’s sister (Amy Seimetz) and document the cult she finds herself a part of, the trio initially see the allure of the commune, but things take a turn for the worse when they’re introduced to the enigmatic Father (Gene Jones) of the group.

Quite simply and thoughtfully answering the question of what would happen if an immersive journalist visited Jonestown, West wisely never chooses sides between the heroes and the villains until he absolutely has to. The townspeople are lovingly drawn and never really made out to seem crazy, but rather brainwashed. A lengthy showdown between the equally excellent Bowen and Jones giving an interview in front of an audience is some of the best writing and directing West has displayed, and the film itself is a tightly contrasted, slow burning thriller that will stick with the viewer long after it’s done (and despite a couple of “why are they still filming this?” moments). (Andrew Parker)


Tuesday, September 10th, Scotiabank 7, 9:45pm

Friday, September 13th, Scotiabank 3, 8:45pm

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