Review by Sean Boelman
Cult film icon Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator) has made a name for herself such that her mere presence in a project is enough to pique the interest of genre fans. The Lovecraft-influenced horror flick Sacrifice definitely benefits from her involvement, an overly self-serious movie in desperate need of an added dose of campiness.
The film follows a pregnant couple who find themselves trapped in a sticky situation when they return to one of their hometowns and discover that the locals may have more sinister intentions. It’s a pretty standard combination of cosmic and cult horror tropes, but it clearly wants to be more than it is.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the movie is that the pacing is pretty inconsistent. It manages to stick the ending pretty well, but it struggles to keep the viewer’s interest for the first hour or so. A deeper investment in world-building early on could have allowed the more shocking elements that come later in the film to be more impactful.
Unfortunately, the movie feels a lot more empty than it needs to be. As a genre, cosmic horror is typically pretty meaningful, even if it isn’t always profound. Everything that this film has to say has been done before (and more successfully), and as a result, any attempts that the movie makes at being deep fall flat.
The character development in the film is also really lackluster. The first twenty minutes set up the relationship between the protagonists, but the movie largely separates them for the rest of the runtime. This undermines any potential emotional connection that the audience could have had to the story.
Sophie Stevens and Ludovic Hughes play the two main characters and they do a less than stellar job in their roles. Hughes’s performance is extremely wooden, and while this is how it is supposed to be in the final thirty minutes of the film, he never has any emotion at any point. Crampton is a highlight in the supporting cast, but she is underused.
On a technical level, the movie is mostly strong. There is a really strong atmosphere to the film, and while the budget obviously isn’t very high, the filmmakers do the best that they can with a small scale. It’s nice to see the cosmic horror genre return to its psychological roots rather than the special effects extravaganzas that many of the movies have become.
Sacrifice definitely has strong execution, but the story is a bit too run-of-the-mill for it to be especially memorable. Filmmakers Andy Collier and Toor Mian show promise behind the camera, but they need a stronger script to deliver a great film.
Sacrifice is now in theaters and hits VOD on February 9.