Monday, December 12, 2011

The Sacred and Facing A Murderous Past: A Movie Review

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*a screener of this film was provided by Osiris Entertainment.

**here be some spoilers.

Director: Jose Zambrano Cassella.

Writers: Jose Zambrano Cassella and Sharon Reed.

Cast: Jessica Blackmore, Lauren Brown and David Mackey.

It is truly amazing how many indie thrillers release each year under the radar. The Sacred is just such an obscure film from second time director Jose Zambrano Cassella. This film deals with an ancient Native American curse. Five archaeology students set out to investigate an ancient Floridian tribe and instead they find a warning: "only those with a pure heart may pass judgement." And in modern times those pure hearts are harder and harder to find.

So, these five friends find a guide to take them to an ancient native camp. They are warned to return by nightfall, but the forces on the island have other plans for them. Pete (David Mackey), Miranda (Jessica Blackmore), Jackie (Lauren Brown), Zach (Ryan Marsico), and Jared (Jordan Wall) then spend their few remaining hours searching the camp for evidence of the island's past inhabitants. They find markers and warnings; however, their naivety keeps them at their isolated locale for a little too long. Soon, canoes are sinking, hallucinations are forming and each character is forced to confront something from their past

Jared, the intellect of the bunch, finds an ancient ward which he uses to summon something not of the physical world. The spirit that is summoned shows Jared his past, a past of torture. Apparently, Jared liked to torment little kids for fun. He also liked to murder them for reasons unexplained. Meanwhile, the males seem to suffer first as Pete is confronted by another long forgotten image. An abused dog reminds him how to treat animals properly. Unfortunately, Pete will have little time to learn his lessons. Only Miranda has a more innocent past and this reviewer figured her to be of pure heart. This is not the first time this film fan has been wrong. Soon, Miranda finds solace in the arms of the damned.

The Sacred is a very good thriller. The ancient Native American superstition developed by writers Jose Zambrano Cassella and Sharon Reed for this film is elaborate and well thought out. The heart pounding trees, or the event foretelling film reels, or the many native markings keep the story moving forward in a believable way. This film makes believing the unbelievable simple. Yet, this film might not be for horror fans as the emphasis of Cassella's style is on building tension and on developing characters. The bloodsplatter is also minimal and used for effect only. As well, one critique could be made in regard to the characters. Their dark pasts could have been hinted at earlier in the film. Instead, the viewer is confronted with at least three killers in only a few minutes and the illusion that the film produces is mildly disturbed. Still the excitement remains.

This reviewer really enjoyed this film. The filmmakers have created a thrilling time spent on a cursed island where all exit paths lead back to the evil entry point. The characters are given some attention and some diversity. As well, the curse, which unifies the story, is given credibility by all of the visual evidence in the film including totems and wards. This is a great film for fans of thrillers who like a little tragedy in their stories. And most of that tragedy comes from the characters' dark and murderous pasts.

Overall: 7 out of 10 (well written, great indie, characters are only partially developed, the supernatural element only appears on the periphery until the final few climactic moments).

*this title released on DVD November 8th. The extras include: a behind the scenes featurette, audio commentaries, "Mina the Movie" short film, bloopers and a trailer

An okay review at DVD Verdict (Gordon Sullivan):

The Sacred Reviewed at DVD Verdict

The Sacred with release details at Osiris Entertainment:

The Sacred at Osiris Ent.

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