Media Review: The Sacrament (2013)

The Sacrament (2013) currently available on Netflix

1.The Sacrament is a film written and directed by TI West, produced by Worldview Entertainment and Arcade Pictures. It was filmed in Savannah, Georgia and was first shown at the Venice Film Festival on September 2, 2013. The film made its United States premiere at the Austin Fantastic Fest on September 20, 2013 and was released online on May 1, 2014.

2. In the film, Father’s name is Charles Anthony Reed. In Eden Parish, Father is still very religious and believes in God. So much so that he quotes the Bible during the film. He is a much older gentleman with gray hair and a Southern accent. He also seemed much more like a preacher than a fanatic. However as the film progressed, he became more sinister. He warned Sam not to spin the story of Eden parish. When speaking to Sam during the interview by asking Sam what he would do to save his wife and child, so it felt like he was very threatening person. He also obviously had a lot of authority over Eden Parish members, as they would clap cheer at just about everything he said so he had a lot of control over the member’s responses to things. Father also had a hypersexual aspect to him. He told Caroline to set Patrick up in a threesome so he would want to stay. It also seemed he was sleeping with Caroline as well. When he called for the mass murder/suicide he was very calm and said if they didn’t die, the government was going to come a get them and take their children. He also was much more violent because he ordered those who refused to drink the poison to be shot.

3. The movie doesn’t talk about the Concerned Relatives directly and there are only a few instances where the actors could possibly be referring to them.  One of the main references the movie makes, and really the only one at all, was right when the main characters arrived at the compound.  As Patrick’s sister, Caroline, is showing them around she mentions people who want to stop what they are doing at the compound. She goes on to say that this requires them to keep a certain level of secrecy.  This is a reference to both the Concerned Relatives and the people they recruited to help them save their families.

4.  For the portrayal of November 18, 1978 community members  were called over the loudspeaker by Father to gather in the pavilion.  Red punch that had cyanide mixed into it was put into cups and distributed to all community members.  Father gave a speech to his people saying that the media would return to America and portray their community in a negative way.  Once this occurs Father explained to them that the government would send soldiers to come and kill everyone.  To stop the government from coming and killing them and their children Father encourages everyone to drink the punch and die painlessly together.  Father quotes the bible Romans 12:1 and makes some religious references about them entering heaven.  One boy stands up against Father and believes they shouldn’t give up but he is shut down by Father and other followers.  Mothers help children drink poison and it is syringed into babies mouths.  People are visibly in pain foaming at the mouth and convulsing and crying and screaming can be heard all over.  Those who refuse to drink the poison are forced fed poison and those that try to escape are shot and killed by the guards surrounding the pavilion.  A mother slits her daughter’s throat to save her from being tortured and  she is then shot by guards.  Caroline kills her brother Patrick with injecting him with most likely cyanide and then lights herself on fire.  Father kidnaps Sam and then later Father commits suicide by  shooting himself in the mouth.  After all of the deaths occurred it is possible the compound was burned. Overall 167 died at the Edith Parish and Jake and Sam are the only known survivors.  

5. Rotten Tomatoes, a well known film review and critique site, shows the films average rating among its users was 5.74 out of 10. Metacritic gave the film a rating of 49/100. It received a positive review in Variety, stating that the found footage in the film was very well done and that it had “no reason to look this good”. The Los Angeles Times stated that the beginning was “dread-inducing tour de force” but that the film fell apart in the second half and was a disappointment.