The Sacrament is a dramatization of the real-life mass suicide that occurred in 1978 in Guyana at the compound known as Jonestown. The final death toll at Jonestown was 909 people, almost a third of them children. Ti West's The Sacrament shrinks it down a bit, but does not diminish the impact. The character of Father even looks like Jim Jones, right down to the sunglasses and sweat-drenched white shirt. My only gripe with the film is that keeping it so in tune with the Jonestown Massacre does make the film a bit predictable. There were so many different ways West could've gone off the rails with this story and truly shock the audience. But I guess that only really applies to people familiar with the Jonestown story, which isn't everyone. I did enjoy the film, though. It's a vicious slow burn that explodes in the final act.
A photographer named Patrick (Adley) receives a letter from his estranged sister Caroline (Seimetz), who has been living on a compound in the jungle called Eden Parish. Patrick and a VICE documentary crew, Jake (Swanberg) and Sam (Bowen) go to Eden to find and possible rescue Caroline, but Eden is a paradise on earth. Everyone is happy and carefree, and their charismatic leader Father (Jones) seems to be the genuine article. But when Jake and Sam encounter a young girl who begs them for an escape, things take a sudden dark turn for the worst, and now Jake and Sam need to escape before Father tears it all down. Like I said, it's identical to Jonestown, but that doesn't make it any less tense or horrific to watch.
The Sacrament is another feather in Ti West's cap, who has proven to be a filmmaker to watch out for in his horror adventures. His new film X comes out on Friday, and I'm sure it will be another crazy, psychologically disturbing horror flick that everyone will be talking about. The Sacrament is definitely one such film.