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The latest film from indie genre icon Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) sends frequent collaborators AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz, Joe Swanberg and Kentucker Audley on a harrowing journey into madness and messianic bloodshed.
Known for moody génre pieces (The House
of the Devil, The Innkeepers), Ti West wades
into the depths of religious fanaticism with
his new film, The Sacrament.
Patrick (Kentucker Audley) is a fashion photographer.
When his colleagues Sam (AJ Bowen)
and Jake (Joe Swanberg, who also stars in
Proxy in this year’s Vanguard program), correspondents
for Vice magazine, catch wind of a letter he received from his
estranged sister Caroline (Amy Seimetz),
they decide her story would be a great subject
for a documentary — she's living in a
"sober" commune at an unnamed location
outside the United States.
The three set off for a visit. While
Patrick reunites with his sister, Sam
and Jake investigate why members of
the isolated community have followed
a mysterious leader they call Father off
American soil. Understandably skeptical
at first, the guys slowly come around to the
group's utopian claims.
The Sacrament is West's powerful
take on suicide cults, and it shows a deep
understanding of the hold a leader can
have over a trusting populace. The film's
charismatic Father is a clear stand-in for
the infamous Jim Jones, who led hundreds
to a mass suicide at Jonestown in 1978.
Following up his atmospheric earlier
films, West employs some familiar
techniques here but takes it to the next
level, teasing out beautifully naturalistic
performances from his four leads (and
long-time collaborators), and compelling
documentary-style realism from the hundred
extras that make up the inhabitants of
The Sacrament will have you riding shotgun
with its ragtag crew on their journey
into madness and messianic bloodshed.
- Ti West
- Ti West was born Wilmington,
Delaware. He wrote and directed the
features The Roost (05), Trigger Man
(07), Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (09),
The House of the Devil (09), and The
Innkeepers (11), and short films in the
horror anthologies V/H/S (12) and
The ABCs of Death (12), the latter of
which screened at the Festival. The
Sacrament (13) is his latest feature.