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The Sacrament

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • 'The Sacrament' offers a nuanced, atmospheric take on a cult's tragedy, with solid performances and presentation.

    The Sacrament Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • 'The Sacrament' on Blu-ray showcases sharp, detailed imagery with a professional, yet documentary feel, despite its muted colors and intended visual imperfections.

  • Audio
  • The Sacrament's Blu-ray features a haunting, immersive 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack, blending Tyler Bates' eerie score with crystal-clear dialogue and dynamic sound design for an enveloping experience.

  • Extra
  • Director Ti West, with actors and crew, delves into the making of The Sacrament, sharing insights on script development, production challenges, and the film's pacing, while highlighting their collaborative spirit and West's impactful leadership.

  • Movie
  • The Sacrament" transcends the found footage genre, offering a gripping docudrama inspired by Jonestown, showcasing Ti West's skillful direction despite Roth's overshadowing promotion.

    Video: 70

    The video presentation of "The Sacrament" on Blu-ray, encoded in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4, exhibits a careful balance between maintaining the authenticity of a documentary-style film and delivering the depth expected from a high-definition release. Filmed using the Canon C300, a professional-grade HD camera, the film achieves an image clarity and stability that surpasses the sometimes overly shaky visuals characteristic of found footage movies. Directors Ti West and cinematographer Eric Robbins strived for an outcome that looks both professional and spontaneously captured by a documentary crew, adding texture in post-production to emulate the appearance of 16mm film. This nuanced cinematography is complemented by stable shots during key interviews and conversations, with occasional fixed-camera angles to vary visual rhythm, offering the viewer a break from constant movement and providing clear, focused imagery.

    However, the Blu-ray presentation reveals some limitations inherent to the digital filming equipment used. The transfer harbors a somewhat grayish cast over its visuals, which, whether intentional or not, dampens the color spectrum's vibrancy, resulting in a presentation that can at times feel flat and sterile compared to traditional film. This effect extends to contrast levels and black densities, which fluctuate between rich depth and a more washed-out appearance, impacting the overall visual appeal. Despite these inconsistencies, sharpness is commendable across the board, with fine details in textures, clothing, and the environment captured with striking clarity, enhancing the realism and immersive qualities of the Eden Parish compound and its jungle surroundings.

    Magnolia Home Video's decision to opt for a lower average bitrate of 17.99 Mbps than what might be expected for such releases does not seem to detract significantly from the viewing experience. Thanks to the digital origination of the footage and scenes with minimized motion, the compression is handled adeptly without evident artifacts. The choice to tweak certain elements of the color spectrum brings moments of visual flair amidst generally-muted tones, particularly highlighting the lush greens of the jungle scenery and crucial plot elements in the film's latter sections. Overall, while grappling with the challenges of its digital format, "The Sacrament's" Blu-ray video presentation admirably conveys the filmmakers' vision through its careful handling of detail and texture within its crafted documentary aesthetic.

    Audio: 75

    The Sacrament" boasts an audio experience that is as intricate and immersive as its storytelling, featuring a 5.1 soundtrack encoded in DTS-HD Master Audio that presents a lossless, precise delivery across its dynamic range. The forward orientation typical of documentary styles is elevated by the film’s sound design, embracing an immersionist approach reminiscent of Vice’s signature journalism. This is complemented by Tyler Bates’ inventive score, which injects a haunting yet foreboding presence through its use of bass notes and strategic overlays above the action, serving almost as an auditory commentary on the unfolding events. Dialogue is consistently clear, maintaining a sharp distinction between those in front of and behind the camera, which enhances the viewer's sense of participation in the narrative. Furthermore, the sound mix adeptly handles the dynamic discrepancies, from the authoritative gunshot sounds at Eden Parish to the joyous singing of its members, all rendered with a clarity that conveys their emotional and narrative significance.

    The soundtrack's technical prowess extends to its ambient sound design, creating an audibly stirring atmosphere that excels in eerie immersion. Utilizing the surround channels effectively, it crafts a soundfield filled with the subtle rustlings of nature and the whispered exchanges among parishioners, enveloping the listener in the unsettling tranquility of Eden Parish. The sinister undercurrents of Bates’ score are pushed into the background, seamlessly weaving through the soundscape to enhance the film's tension without overwhelming. The front soundstage showcases a broad imaging with remarkable presence and warmth, where fidelity shines through alongside a meticulously balanced channel separation.

    Particularly noteworthy is the mix’s treatment of the low-end frequencies, which punctuate the soundtrack with unexpected potency, giving weight to both the music and action sequences. This robust foundation not only supports but elevates the auditory experience, ensuring each sound bit, from the subtlest whisper to the most startling bang, is felt with convincing palpability. Coupled with outstanding mid-range acoustics and a deliberate manipulation of sound during moments of chaos (like a camera fall), this soundtrack stands out for its technical excellence and emotional impact, making it a distinct pleasure for audiophiles and film enthusiasts alike.

    Extra: 58

    The extras on "The Sacrament" Blu-ray disc offer an immersive deep dive into the film’s creation, with a particular focus on the collaborative dynamic between director Ti West and his cast and crew. The commentary track is a highlight, featuring Ti West along with actors AJ Bowen and Amy Seimetz, providing a balanced mix of technical insights, behind-the-scenes anecdotes, and the challenges of finding the film’s rhythm in post-production. Noteworthy is the absence of deleted scenes, which could have enriched understanding of the narrative's evolution. "Creating The Sacrament: Revealing the Vision" is an informative documentary that, along with "Working with the Director: The Ti West Experience" and "Preparing for Takeoff: Behind the Scenes Helicopter Experience," offers a comprehensive look at the dedication required to bring such a unique horror vision to life. These features, combined with additional promotional material and trailers, make for a substantial package, though the promise of BD-Live updates remains unfulfilled.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Commentary with Writer/Director Ti West and Actors AJ Bowen and Amy Seimetz: A discussion on the film's production, the editing process, and anecdotes from the set.
    • Creating The Sacrament: Revealing the Vision: Interviews exploring the film's inception, challenges during filming, and distinctions within the horror genre.
    • Working with the Director: The Ti West Experience: Cast and crew express their admiration for West's direction.
    • Preparing for Takeoff: Behind the Scenes Helicopter Experience: Insight into filming aerial sequences for the film.
    • AXS TV: A Look at The Sacrament: A promotional piece with interview highlights.
    • Also from Magnolia Home Entertainment: Includes trailers for other films, without featuring "The Sacrament" trailer.
    • BD-Live: An option for online content that advises to "Check back later for updates.

    Movie: 65

    The Sacrament," directed by Ti West and co-produced by Eli Roth, embarks on a haunting journey, diverging from the typical found-footage horror into a more chilling docudrama territory that mirrors the horrific crime reminiscent of the 1978 Jonestown Massacre. This film stands out in West's filmography as it delves into a narrative told through the lens of a Vice news team - Sam, Jake, and Patrick - investigating the mysterious Eden Parish, led by the magnetic Father, played compellingly by Gene Jones. The movie's strength lies in its ability to maintain professional news crew aesthetics with coherent storytelling and context, giving it a realistic edge over traditional found footage horror films. Despite the finite number of extras failing to capture the Jonestown tragedy's scale wholly, "The Sacrament" cleverly navigates this limitation, focusing on intimacy and emotional violence that grips the audience till the end.

    Breaking away from conventional horror tropes, Ti West presents a grisly yet logical sequence of events, showcasing his desire to explore genres beyond horror. The film's suspenseful build-up is punctuated by gruesome scenes that prompted walkouts during screenings, highlighting its impactful portrayal of intimate closeup murders. The cultivated atmosphere of paranoia and spiritual fervor in Eden Parish is enriched by Gene Jones's performance as Father, whose captivating presence elevates the narrative to a compelling exploration of cult dynamics and their devastating consequences. Furthermore, this movie benefits from its association with Vice Media, lending an air of authenticity to its found-footage style while raising questions about the ethical implications of using real-life horrors as inspiration for entertainment.

    In conclusion, while "The Sacrament" may seem like a departure from Ti West's usual horror ventures, its engagement with real-life events through a fictional lens offers a unique perspective on the genre. Despite criticisms surrounding the involvement of Eli Roth for promotional gains, the film transcends these superficial connections, standing on its own as a thought-provoking thriller that gradually intensifies in tension. West skilfully marries suspenseful storytelling with poignant performances, particularly from Gene Jones and Amy Seimetz, making "The Sacrament" not just another horror movie but a psychologically rich narrative that delves into the dark corners of human belief and manipulation.

    Total: 68

    The Sacrament," directed by Ti West, emerges as an atmospheric thriller that veers away from the conventional horror archetype to present a thought-provoking portrait of a utopian religious community that descends into madness. This departure from West's known horror domain, coupled with Magnolia's decent Blu-ray presentation, generates mixed reactions primarily due to misplaced expectations from the marketing efforts. Viewers anticipating a horror spectacle might find themselves amidst a more nuanced narrative that focuses on the fragility of human endeavors when confronted with insurmountable challenges. The performances by Gene Jones and Amy Seimetz are commendable, breathing life into a story that occasionally suffers from pacing issues but remains engaging through its build-up of tension.

    The technical quality of the Blu-ray enhances the viewing experience, with a "very good but stylized picture quality" that complements the film's eerie mood. The audio presentation further augments this atmosphere, ensuring that viewers are acoustically immersed in the unfolding drama. However, it's worth noting that the special features offered are somewhat limited, although what’s provided can be considered entertaining. This aspect, paired with the film's thematic depth and presentation, positions the Blu-ray as a worthwhile purchase for fans and a strong rental consideration for those new to West's narrative style or intrigued by the film's premise.

    In conclusion, "The Sacrament" on Blu-ray serves as a testament to Ti West's ability to craft an absorbing thriller that merges elements of real-world horror with a critical look at human nature and leadership. While it might not satiate those seeking traditional horror thrills, its compelling story, coupled with solid technical presentation, makes it an essential addition for aficionados of genre-deviating narratives. This release challenges viewers to reconsider their expectations and appreciate the film for its exploration of complex themes and meticulous buildup to a haunting climax.