By in Movies & TV

Movie-Related Thoughts: 'The Sacrament' (2013)

I am starting a new project with this article: right after watching a movie I am going to write down my thoughts and impressions related to it. The articles from this series are not intended to be movie reviews, they are just meant to capture my ideas and feelings triggered by a movie while its plot and action are still fresh on my mind.

The first movie from this project, and obviously the last one I watched, is “The Sacrament”, a 2013 American found footage thriller whose plot is inspired by a real event. Two journalists accompany one of their co-workers on a visit to his sister, which has left city life and settled somewhere in the countryside where a religious cult, founded by a person known as “ Father”, has established itself as a community living by its own rules. The journalists take advantage of this opportunity to visit the site, spend one night there and capture their experience on film. They want to understand what made so many people, including whole families, abandon their ordinary lives and accept to follow this individual whom everyone calls “Father” and obey him blindly.

Obviously, after the initial impression that everyone lives happily under the guidance of their beloved Father in that small community called Eden Parish, things turn really ugly and the dramatic events which happen after the arrival of the journalists show that the peace and stability which seem to dominate that community are fake. It didn’t take me too long to realize that the plot is inspired by a real-life tragedy, the Jonestown Massacre, which shocked the world in 1978. The character of the Father was inspired by Jim Jones, the leader of the American cult called the Peoples Temple, who convinced more than 900 members of his cult to commit mass suicide by cyanide poisoning in Guyana. ‘

"The Sacrament” might not be the most original movie I have seen, since its plot is obviously rooted in those tragic events which took place 37 years ago, but I still think watching it wasn’t a waste of time because such unwanted events can always happen again. The main question I have in my mind after seeing it is: How is it possible for so many people to fall prey to the charms of such unscrupulous and clearly disturbed individuals, abandon everything and follow them blindly? Is it that easy for an individual with some degree of charisma and which is capable of making convincing speeches to fool so many people and turn them into sheep?

It is very difficult for me to find good answers to such questions because I can’t place myself in the position of a person who could be easily attracted by the ideology presented by such a demented, but charismatic cult leader. I like to think that we live in a world where people are at least free to believe whatever they want and that no one could that take this spiritual freedom away from me, but unfortunately some people loose their ability to think freely. They become a sort of slaves, unable to get out of the mental prison in which they were placed by their cult leaders. I see the main value of “The Sacrament” not necessarily in its production or its dynamic plot, but in the warning it sends to all the viewers: Be careful who you believe and follow or you might one day loose your spiritual and mental freedom!

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MegL wrote on August 28, 2015, 12:50 PM

Gosh was it really 37 years ago? I remember that, it was terrible. That's the problem with cults, people want to feel safe and cults encourage that feeling.

JohnRoberts wrote on August 28, 2015, 3:47 PM

I have never liked the found footage films since they came in vogue with The Blair Witch Project.

AliCanary wrote on August 29, 2015, 1:49 PM

Well, most of the world's population follows some form of religion, which, if you look at it, is basically just someone teaching you to believe a story that they believe. Apparently, people are quite ready to do that.