Horror, US, 2014, 93mins, cert 18.
Released in the UK on DVD on 29th June 2015 by Left Films.
“A man’s faith allows him to eat anything, but a man whose faith is weak eats only vegetables.”
Reportedly iconic scream queen Marilyn Burns’ last (and brief) film appearance before her untimely death last year, it’s perhaps somewhat fitting that her last cinematic outing is knee-deep in TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE territory. Playing alongside her as her husband is Ed Guinn (the cattle truck driver from the original TCM), whilst the film itself is set in the middle of the Texas bible belt and features teens being the main course on the barbecue. Unfortunately there are no chainsaws in evidence, but the crazed townsfolk of ‘Middlespring’ seem to be managing just fine without one!
Call it a homage to TCM, but SACRAMENT (not to be confused with Ti West’s 2013 THE SACRAMENT), does offer a few variations on its otherwise well-trodden tale of barbecued butchery. Firstly, there’s the central gay relationship between the two male leads which takes on a greater significance in a pivotal payoff later on. Then, there’s the religious slant driving the cannibalistic community to commit atrocities against all those unfortunate young ‘sinners’. And it does offer Marilyn Burns a chance (albeit briefly) to taste what it’s like to be the terroriser (and tenderiser) for once.
It’s rough round the edges, the acting is (to be charitable) variable in quality, and whilst it’s never dull it never manages to set the pulse racing or even begin to notch the terror dial above ‘1’. It originally started out as a short (included in the extras), which is recreated in its entirety during the film (with a different actor), and perhaps rather tellingly this remains the most effective sequence throughout.
In some ways it’s a DTV equivalent of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ drive-in gore feast TWO THOUSAND MANIACS. But whilst it certainly offers Herschell-like portions of blood and entrails, it’s ultimately more of a gruesome snack than a gourmet blood feast.
**(out of 5*)