Review- The Sacrament (2013)

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d3cWelcome to Mind Control Month |Brainwashing/Deception Week – Day 5. Today is the final day of brainwashing and deception week. Next week will be the final week of Mind Control Month, and we are ending it on a different form of mind control…mental illness. So, look forward to a few interesting mental illness films next week. Today, we’re talking about The Sacrament, which is a mockumentary about a cult, but how far does it go? Let’s talk about the plot.

The journalist Patrick works at the VICE, a company dedicated to cover bizarre news. When his sister Caroline joins a community, she travels abroad with her new family. Out of the blue, Caroline invites her brother to visit her in an undefined country and Patrick travels by helicopter with his friends Jake and Sam that work with him at VICE. They find weird that the men that have come to guide them to the Eden Parish have guns. On the arrival to the camp, Patrick, Sam and Jake find a community of happy people that worship Father. They interview Father but soon they realize that people are not as happy as they seem to be. Further, they find that they are trapped in the Parish Eden and they want to leave the place with the newcomers. But the Father does not have intention to let them go.

Say what you will about films centered on cults, I think there’s actually a bit of ground to cover and these films are doing a pretty good job at doing that. This film has an interesting perspective of cult members vs. cult members – those who are still brainwashed and those who are afraid for their lives because they cannot escape and worry for the worst. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the entire mockumentary angle, I did respect the perspective from within the cult – and it definitely attempts to go pretty bold as far as the psychological effects of the audience go. It might not have been as effective as it wanted to be, but it was done pretty well.

This is all just first impressions though, let’s go ahead and break down The Sacrament in order to interpret the stars!

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PEOPLE SCORE – 3/10
Acting – 1|Characters – 0|Casting – 0|Importance – 1|Chemsitry – 1

For a film centered on the negative effects of cult-life experiences on people…the actual people were probably the worst part of the film. While I didn’t mind Father’s character, that’s literally all I found interesting. The acting was typical, neither great or awful, and no one technically had bad chemistry. The characters as a whole were not only forgettable…but they were noticeably annoying here and there, which was partially due to the cast. They could’ve easily hired a better cast here. As far as importance goes, I really didn’t think any one person independently added to the plot of the film other than Father.

WRITING SCORE – 7/10
Dialogue – 2|Balanced – 2|Story – 0|Originality – 1|Interesting – 2

The writing category did a little bit better. The Father character did a wonderful job with the dialogue portion. The mind control happening here had to do with the essence surrounding him, easy to get lost in. The film also follows a pretty solid storyline throughout, so it’s definitely balanced. How about the story, was that any good. I wish it was, but the truth is, there’s nothing fantastic or meaningful about the story, and a big part of that is it’s “originality”, which even though I respect the perspective, it just wasn’t enough to feel fresh. It felt like a million other films like it. That being said, I’ll still say it’s super interesting.

BTS SCORE – 6/10
Visuals – 1|Directing – 1|Editing – 2|Advertisement – 2|Music – 1

Behind-the-scenes got the blasted and cursed six out of ten-star rating, and that’s because it did the very bare minimum, which you normally see in comedies. The point is if they put a little more focus on these subcategories…the film would’ve been so much better. Without it, you begin to sense something cheaper than normal. The visuals are nothing special, there was no challenge or visual difficulty to the directing or editing, and the music goes from ear to ear without any real acknowledgment. How about the advertisement? Well, I wouldn’t say it had any false advertisement, so it did its job there, so full points for that.

NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 7/10
Introduction – 1|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 0

Next up, we’re looking at a narrative arc category, which easily could’ve done better, but I digress. The introduction is fine…but it’s weird. It’s talking a lot about the company they work for and that his sister is missing and that they’ve gotta do a piece on it…and it was just rushed through to get to the point, so only half points there. The inciting incident is when they land in an unknown part of the world, which clearly means they can’t go back, perfect points. The obstacles came down to the mystery and clues as to what this place really is, especially when it came to Father. The climax was a bit of an insane culmination of everything else up to that point, but it was definitely clear – but after that, it ends. There is no real calming down moment nor a return to the new norm. It is what it is. So, no stars for falling action.

ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 5/10
Rewatchability – 1|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impulse/Talk – 0|Sucks you in – 2

On a technical standpoint, I think this film was geared to be more fun, because that’s exactly what it is…fun. It did a good job at sucking the audience in…at least once Father shows up, that is. As soon as he shows up, it’s a riot, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it was very rewatchable…maybe to a degree, but because the people category didn’t really result in much, that little bit is a little hard to pass when considering the rewatch. Other than that, I didn’t care to buy it, put it on my gifting wish list, or really talk about it with others that may not know it exists.

SPECIALTY SCORE – 45/50
Mind Control – 10|Brainwashing – 10|Thriller – 10|Mystery – 5|Halfway Decent – 10

Finally, we look at the specialty category. First and foremost, we ask how well this fits with the theme of mind control. Interestingly enough, this was the only movie about a cult that I’ve seen where I actually consider this perfect. Not only does brainwashing get full points, but so does mind control – because there actually is an element of this film that absolutely is mind control. As for the genres, how were the thriller and mystery angles? Well, I think the film consistently gets more thrilling as it moves on, so full points there. Mystery, though? I never once cared for the main story about the missing sister and if you think cult life is a mystery, you have another think coming. Finally, was it halfway decent? Yeah, I think they accurately did what they were supposed to do.

TOTAL – 73/100

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