Thank God for VOD! – The Sacrament

I don’t get to go to the movies as often as I’d like to, but that doesn’t mean I can’t watch awesome flicks at home. Thank God for VOD!

sacramentThe Sacrament

In my pre-calculus class in 11th grade, pinned to the bulletin board year round, was a laminated old and yellowed newspaper clipping detailing the events of the Jonestown Massacre in November of 1978. My teacher kept it up as a reminder for us to question everything, to think for ourselves, to follow our own paths. Being a macabre teenager, I was fascinated by the tragedy, that a charismatic leader could convince, encourage, or force hundreds of individuals to commit suicide, or that people would so blindly just shut up and do as told. And then there’s the whole death by poisoned Flavor Aid thing. So, my interest spurred, I read and researched as much as I could discover about Jim Jones, The People’s Temple, Guyana, Jonestown, and the terrible events that occurred there. It’s a tragic and interesting story, and it’s amazing to me that it took 36 years to finally get a (good) movie inspired by it.

And so we have The Sacrament, the latest film from horror auteur Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers).

Just when I think that the found footage genre has completely and utterly played itself out, along comes a film to inject a much needed booster shot into the arm of this mock cinema verite format.

The film takes on the guise of one of those Vice Guide to… travel movies, an actual series that places guerilla style journalists in exotic and very often dangerous locales. The Vice journalists in this instance are played by AJ Bowen (You’re Next, A Horrible Way to Die) and Joe Swanberg (You’re Next, Drinking Buddies), who decide to accompany their photographer friend to a commune in the jungle to visit his recovering addict sister. Their intent is to interview the residents and leader of Eden Parish in order to write and film a story for their website.

Once inside the commune, the trio witness what appears to be a happy and healthy community of likeminded people working together. The people have grown food, built housing, created a daycare, established a hospital of sorts, and seemingly have shed their egos and 21st century concerns for the greater good of their village as a whole. Smiling faces. True believers.

But then things begin to slowly unravel.

Signs of dissent or fear begin to surface among the commune dwellers, piercing the serenity and gradually escalating the paranoia and tension as the film progresses, just waiting for something bad to happen. Then we meet our leader, the charismatic and imposing Father, played wonderfully here by Gene Jones (No Country for Old Men), a terrifying father figure and idol to his small township of followers. This is his home. He is in control. And he is not afraid to let anyone know it. The growing dread never subsides…until hell follows.

As per usual, I’m going to stop right here and avoid spoiling anything, but I really dug this movie. It’s a glowing example of what a horror film can be when the mock documentary format is executed precisely. Ti West continues to grow as a filmmaker, and I am interested to see where he goes from here.

Stay away from cults.


Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit

2 Responses to Thank God for VOD! – The Sacrament
  1. Shawn C. Baker Reply

    I have been waiting for this flick for SO LONG! I’ve thus far staved off VOD’ing it because I’m fairly certain it will hit an art house theatre here in LAlaland and I really want to do it like that. Saw House of the Devil on the big screen when it came out and it was one of the best theatrical experiences of my life. Long live Ti West!

    • Tommy Reply

      If you can see it in a theater, definitely do so.

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