Here’s the thing about laundry detergent: it cleans clothes...
...Here’s the thing about sand: you can walk on it. Here’s the thing about a goddamn Nordic sea creature-god worshiping maniacal cult, who’s reign of confusing terror has lasted in a small island community for decades: they’re boring. If you ignored the first two declarative statements, then questioned the third - especially the part about a Nordic sea creature-go worshiping maniacal cult - then you might be in a for a strange dream, because you’re watching Sacrifice, which just had its World Premiere at FrightFest…
Director’s Andy Collier (also writer) and Toor Mian’s Sacrifice finds us ashore in a small-ish Norwegian village/town/place people inhabit, and we’re right away shoved in to the traumatic experience of a woman, washing blood off of her hands, and she’s got this kid, or whatever, and they…. leave.
First scene: summed up.
Once our story gains some offbeat momentum, main characters Isaac (Ludovic Hughes) and Emma (Sophie Stevens) find themselves taking a boat to a remote-ish Norwegian island - capitalizing on a beautiful setting, albeit briefly - and arriving at an also-remote-ish house. When they arrive at the house, there’s a few things made extremely clear:
After settling in, our couple stops in to a local tavern for a bit to eat. As most American’s are supposed to expect in this canon, they’re met with aggressive resistance, involving a showdown of words between Isaac and Gunnar (Lukas Loughran), culminating in Isaac getting his skinny neck pinned down to the bar, Emma shouting to stop the conflict. Here, we’re introduced to Isaac’s history: his mother - and himself, as a child - lived in this town, originally, his “birth name” being … something super-Noridic, it’s like Jortugun or something, I forget. I’m sorry. Anyways, once the bar patrons hear this, they immediately embrace the couple, welcoming them as family.
And in about 2 minutes, we’ve transitioned from “I think I know what’s about to happen” to “he’s going to get his ass kicked” to “wait, what?”, which is a very accurate setup for the rest of the film. Jumping forward, Isaac and Emma are “visited” by the town sheriff, Renate (Barbara Crampton). Renate tells the couple that Isaac’s father was killed (FORESHADOWING?!??!) - complete with the original 20-year old bloodstain, still on the carpet - but she’s also super happy to have them here. Why not come over for dinner the next night? That’s not awkward.
Sacrifice seems, several times, like it’s just about to *maybe* be on to something, and then loses grip. And it loses grip fast. Mixing excess dream sequences with horrible acting (Sophie Stevens at least keeps things somewhat grounded and believable) and a quickly dissolving suspense factor, Sacrifice was very much wounded out of the gate.
It’s difficult to tell whether this was a cleverly-intentioned B-movie, and I totally missed that aspect, or if it’s just confused. Being based on a short story, it feels like a lot of the meat of said content wasn’t ever chewed, or seasoned, or even looked at and compared to illustrations from a high school human anatomy test book.
Sacrifice attempted to leave an impression, and though it looks pretty in passing - though only at times - it never settles in to something consistent enough to take seriously.
By Zach Gorecki