A woman wearing a brown hooded raincoat, looks down with a concerned expression. Behind is a treeline.

“Dream well” – Sacrifice (Film Review)

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Sacrifice is the worst thing a horror film can be: boring. On paper, it has the potential to be a fun ride, a cosmic horror featuring the legendary Barbara Crampton, but unfortunately, Sacrifice is bland, bloated and not scary in the slightest.

Inspired by the works of H.P Lovecraft and Paul Kane’s short story Men of the Cloth, the story sees Isaac (Ludovic Hughes) and his pregnant wife Emma (Sophie Stevens) visit a remote Norwegian island to inherit Isaac’s family home, after the death of his mother. This vital piece of information however isn’t really explained until twenty minutes into the film when the characters clearly state why they are there to begin with. The opening of the film is a mess of bombastic music, direction lacking any sort of style, and a dialogue track that is difficult to understand (there were no subtitles or captions on the screener which certainly would have helped), tracking the couple as they arrive on the island.

What follows is a predictable story of the island community hiding a menacing side as the couple devolves into madness. The writing and directing team of Andy Collier and Tor Mian don’t shy away from wearing their influences on their sleeves- several shots linger on figurines and even a plushie toy of the great Cthulhu. It makes the whole plot however rather predictable for the film’s target audience who will most certainly be familiar with Cthulhu and Lovecraftian lore. The pacing and structure of the narrative make plot points simultaneously feel painfully dragged out, and also as if they come out of nowhere. No theme or message is introduced or built upon, which reduced Sacrifice to a series of boring scenes strung together.

A woman, dressed in a white hooded robe, smiles slightly towards something off screen. In the background is an out of focus cliffside.

We also don’t get a sense of who the characters really are, and that, unfortunately, doesn’t change as the story unfolds. Isaac and Emma don’t have any defining character traits and are simply cardboard cut-outs there to push the plot along. The acting from the leads gets somewhat better towards the end but the script doesn’t give them much to work with. Crampton however, much like in all of the projects she features in, is the best thing about this film: playing the island’s sheriff who seems welcoming at first but is clearly not as friendly as she seems. Crampton’s Norwegian accent is commendable and there’s a surprising amount of depth to her performance- even with the weak script.

With undeveloped characters and a barebones narrative, that leaves the horror set pieces to hopefully make Sacrifice a recommended watch. Spoiler warning: it doesn’t. Each sequence is surprisingly tame for a cosmic horror: with not enough blood, shocks, and tentacles to keep things exciting.

It seems that Collier and Mian wanted to tick all the boxes with their attempt at a cosmic horror – sinister communities, characters plagued by madness, unimaginable sea deities – but they miss the mark with each aspect. If a horror flick has weak characters and story, then it needs to deliver on the frights and entertainment, but unfortunately, the only thing Sacrifice delivers is a waste of time.

Dir: Andy Collier & Tor Mian

Scr: Andy Collier & Tor Mian

Prd: Andy Collier, Tor Mian, Patrick Ewald, Sean Knopp, Hallstein D. Mala, Ross Scaife

Cast: Barbara Crampton, Sophie Stevens, Ludovic Hughes, Lukas Loughran, Johanna Adde Dahl

Country: United Kingdom

Year: 2020

Runtime: 87 minutes

Sacrifice will be available on Digital Download from 15th March 2021

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