The Sacrament is a feature that should please enthusiasts of horror filmmaker Ti West’s previous work (The Innkeepers, The House of the Devil). Even if you’re not familiar with the director’s oeuvre, The Sacrament stands entirely on its own as a nail biting and inspired thriller about a seemingly idyllic community named Eden Parish.
AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg are Vice Media reporters who travel to this tucked away location at the behest of Patrick (Kentucker Adler), a guy who’s attempting to find his missing sister Caroline (Amy Seimetz). The trio’s journey to Eden Parish leads to the introduction of the cult’s charismatic leader, the sunglass donning Father (Gene Jones). Father’s hypnotic effect on his followers, which includes Caroline, is evident, but once he starts losing control of his cult, Eden Parish travels down a tragic and ultimately violent path.
During last week’s press conference for The Sacrament, I asked West about shooting his movie in a docu-style fashion. Although he prefers film over digital filmmaking, the type of visual aesthetic is secondary to one’s own mastery of storytelling.
“You adjust to it before you even start,” says West, who shot the film with the Canon C300. “A lot of people ask me, ‘what’s the challenge of shooting movies that way?’ It’s really just the same as any traditional thing – it’s about what you show and what you don’t show and the ratio of what’s scary and what’s not scary – and sort of milking that. I tell people it’s sort of like you could tell a joke and all your friends laugh and your friend can tell the same joke and it just bombs. There’s a sense of timing you intrinsically have in being able to read the situation.”
The Sacrament, which is currently available on iTunes, VOD, and On Demand, will have a theatrical release on June 6. Although The Sacrament, if released twenty or thirty years ago, would have had a wider release, filmmakers such as West sees the value of having his work seen on streaming formats. Click on the media bar below to hear the director discuss the benefits of VOD: