The Sacrament opens with a reality TV show correspondent speaking with a young photographer whose sister has had drug problems in the past which lead her to join a sober living community in rural Mississippi. She writes him, asking him to visit but when he calls the number she provided he is told by a man that she has left the country with the other “community members.” Rather than being given her exact location, he is told that he would be given a location to go to, where a helicopter would then transport him to her location. The strains of Heartbeats By The Knife accompany their journey to Eden Parish, where his sister is now residing with a large group of believers, in the company of a man they all call Father.
The movie is instantly stark, and steeped in an oppressive sense of peril. There is nothing comfortable; every meeting with locals is infused with a sense of dread, even when the people are kind and charismatic. The brother and the two reality show crew members are wonderfully human characters, you find yourself drawn in when they are charming and repelled when they are condescending or abrasive. Yet, due to the industry they work in, it all feels very natural. The movie is an emotional and gut-wrenching roller coaster, but I still very much recommend it.
Ti West is a director to watch, his movies are mesmerizing, quiet, and frightening. House of the Devil and Innkeepers are very different movies from The Sacrament, but I recommend them all. He is a young director, but his mastery is already impressive. I can not wait to see what he does next.