Last year I read a book called A Thousand Lives which chronicled the rise and fall of Jim Jones and his infamous Jonestown. It was a chilling read, and I highly recommend it if you want to learn about the inner workings of the People’s Temple, as it uses the first hand accounts of survivors as its source.
I have a bit of a fascination with Jim Jones and similar cults, as I think the psychology of their work is very very interesting. How they can get genuinely lovely people to do the most abominable things, all because of the smoothly spoken (and so-called) words of god.
So when I heard about The Sacrament and that it was loosely based on the events at Jonestown, it caught my interest. I watched it last night, and I would say that rather than being loosely based, it is pretty much a re-enactment.
A Vice documentary crew go to the Eden Parish commune, run by ‘Father’, to meet up with the sister of one of the reporters. What they notice almost immediately is that thing are oddly perfect. As the day and night progresses the reality of life in the commune slowly comes out, by morning…well, if you are familiar with the Jonestown story, you will be aware of what comes next.
The Kool-Aid part of the movie is simply terrifying, and gives a glimpse into what it possibly may have been like in the real life Jonestown event. It is filmed unflinchingly, and as a documentary style film, the points of view are all first person and therefore raise the chill factor to all new levels. You know what’s coming, and there ain’t nothing you can do about it.
I’m not sure that this movie really qualifies as ‘horror’ per se, as it is more of a slow creeping feeling of dread than an in your face scarefest. It is however uncomfortable to watch in places, and genuinely had me squirming in places – a rare thing these days in the scary movie genre.