Directed by Shawn Ewert
Written by Shawn Ewert
Starring Troy Ford, Avery Pfeiffer, Brittany Badali,
Cassandra Hierholzer, Wesley Kimenyi,
Amanda Rebholz, Henry Pao, Marilyn Burns, Ed Guinn,
Richard Houghton, Joshua Cole Simmons
Sacrament is the debut feature from writer/director Shawn Ewert, and boasts (as far as I can figure it) the final on screen performance by the late horror icon Marilyn Burns, and shes not the only Texas Chainsaw cast member in this one. Ed Guinn also lends his name and talent to this micro budget indie flick.
The story centers around a group of friends who are heading out on a road trip, but before this crew makes their final destination they find themselves bedding down in Middle Springs for a night. A happy place filled with welcoming townspeople. The kind of place that upon first glance you may think is heaven on earth, but often things are not what they appear to be.
Its a familiar tale, with wayward travelers caught in an unfamiliar place, being stalked by the townsfolk who don't want their kind sullying the well manicured streets, but don't think all is as simple as that. Sacrament offers up a twist on the tale, by having our lead men involved in a gay relationship, a major difference from the norm, and a interesting fit into the politics and religion that the town is steeped in.
Sacrament is a film that has a what I felt like was a ton of possibility. It has a few really iconic names attached, all the great stuff we love in b horror, nudity, sex, blood and gore, but it adds some really interesting elements through this religious aspect and cult like community setting. The relationship between the two leading men is fairly well done in the fact that it isn't just a passing moment or two within the film its a focus point, and I did appreciate that it wasn't shied away from as in some films out there. That said I unfortunately didn't feel much in the way of chemistry between the two lovers right away. It did seem to become a little more natural at about the midway point of the film, which helped me start to believe in the story more.
The performances given by most were in my opinion a bit flat, but there were some stand outs, and most of the cast seemed to get stronger as they went along, not really that uncommon in small budget indie films. Marilyn and Ed both delivered as you would expect, and although limited in screen time they added some depth to the story for me.
All in all this one suffers from the things you have come to expect of a micro budget flick, but the story is interesting and it has some good meat on its bones, with a few well done gore moments thrown in for good measure. I think the biggest problem is length. It comes in around 2 hours, and I think it would feel much more succinct and rewarding for viewers at somewhere between 75 to 90 minutes. I found it a little difficult to stay focused while watching, many scenes didn't seem to serve much of a purpose other than to just show a forward progression of time. I would love to revisit this after an additional edit, I feel fairly certain my review would be more glowing. Given that this is a debut for Shawn I am definitely very interested to see what he offers up next!
And as always folks don't just take my word for it, its just one opinion among many! I can tell you Sacrament has been getting some really wonderful response on the festival circuit with some award wins in its favor! I also read that it is getting a more refined edit, so I have no doubt that will make a positive impact on the film, and being one of the last on screen performances by the wonderful Marilyn Burns this one is definitely worth a watch! So keep an eye out at the festival in your area, and support Indie Horror!