★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Barbara Crampton steals the show in this Norwegian folk-horror affair replete with vivid nightmares, tentacles, and the sea.
Directed by Andy Collier & Toor Mian.
Isaac and Emma are expecting their first child, and what better way to make this new phase of their lives a bit more financially stable than cash in Isaac’s old family home? Sure it means they have to spend a couple weeks on an out-of-the-way Norwegian island. And, yes, the villagers do seem to practice some kind of folksy sea-based religion in addition to being morally opposed to eating calamari. But, hey! They’re a friendly bunch!
After an initial misunderstanding, the young couple is welcomed with open arms. Isaac [Ludovic Hughes; Ride (2018)], having been abruptly whisked off the island as a child by his mother, revels in the chance to reconnect with the roots of his family. Diving in with both feet, he joins the villagers in their quaint rituals and learns as much as he can about their way of life. For her part, Emma [Sophie Stevens; The Haunted (2018)] happily stands by her man while he explores his family history.
At least, until Isaac’s mindset begins to change and things take a turn for the tentacled.
Sacrifice is not an action movie by any stretch. The story slithers along at an easy pace with a distinctly Lovecraftian flavor. Many of the horror elements are presented as nightmares inflicted on our two main characters — a favorite narrative device of ol’ Howard Phillips — which some may see as a cop-out, but I felt it added to the Cthulhu-esque ambiance of the film. Dreams are the way the sleeping Great Old One reaches out to His chosen, after all.
Special effects are minimal, but seem to be practical for the most part and are appropriately done. “Appropriately done” meaning maybe not exactly stellar in all cases, but they always felt like they were an appropriate quality for the film. There’s a slight tinge of campiness at times — which I suppose there would have to be given Barbara Crampton‘s Norwegian accent — but it works for the film, not against it.
Speaking of Ms. Crampton, she plays her character (law enforcement officer/cult leader, Renate) to the hilt. As Renate flows easily between her official capacity and her welcome-to-the-village personas, Crampton sets the tone of the film and effortlessly leads the way.
Is the story super original? Not particularly. It is, however, well told and full of little nods to Lovecraft’s arguably most famous fiend, Cthulhu. Plus, the scenery is fantastic. It’s hard not to have a great looking movie when you’re surrounded by the high cliffs of a Norwegian fjord.
Overall, if you think cults are fun, enjoy reading Lovecraft stories (since the pacing is about the same), or like watching Barbara Crampton ply her trade, spending 87 minutes with this film would be worth the… Sacrifice.
See what I did there?
Sacrifice is available for streaming on Amazon and likely a bunch of other places as well.
Review by Robert Zilbauer.