Four lifelong friends head to a remote lodge for a weekend of fun. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly descends into a fight for their lives when a local Pagan cult offer them up to their Goddess as a sacrifice for the Solstice.
Release Date: 16 March 2021 | Runtime: 1hr 22 min | Genre: Horror | Source: Screener received for review consideration | Unstarred Review
It seems that 2021 is going to be the year of the religious/cult horror film. From big studios to the most indie of films, the theme is just EVERYWHERE. It isn’t a subgenre that particularly wows me, but Sacrilege is a decent addition to the long list of religious horror films we’re seeing this year.
Sacrilege starts off simply enough – when the man who brutally assaulted her is released from prison early, Kayla convinces three of her friends (one of them her ex-girlfriend, Trish) to have a wild girl’s weekend away. Little do they know that the Mabon Lodge is host to an annual pagan festival dedicated to the goddess Mabon, and the group soon finds themselves unwillingly at the centre of the celebrations.
Let’s start with the good: the acting from all four of the main cast is very good. Their relationships felt authentic, and the interactions between the characters never felt forced. It’s a fairly short movie at 82 minutes, but I thought the progression in the relationship between Kayla and Trish was well handled in that timeframe (outside of one awkward “sex” scene where there’s a montage of them just kind of pawing at each other…). The overall look of the film was also pretty slick, and didn’t fall into the trap of “scenery so dark you can’t even tell what you’re looking at.” The music was a little jarring at times, but for the most part it was used well and added to the atmosphere of the film.
And the not so good? Really, this movie didn’t bring anything especially new or ground-breaking to the table. It wasn’t bad, by any means, and it kept my attention, but I couldn’t help feeling that other movies have done it before and done it better. I liked how their individual fears were incorporated into the ritual and subsequent horror, but even that wasn’t wholly unique. Then there’s the whole “paganism demands human sacrifices” angle which not only isn’t new, it’s maybe a little icky? I don’t have a horse in this race as I’m not religious by any stretch, but I could imagine it coming across as more than a little insulting to those who are a part of the Pagan religion.
All in all though, I’m not mad about having spent my time with this film. It’s got some decent effects (and some cheesy ones) and good acting, and the pacing of the plot kept me interested. Don’t go in expecting some revolutionary horror masterpiece, but if you’re willing to enjoy it for what it is, it’s a perfectly fine movie.
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