Directed by Andy Collier, Tor Mian.
Written by Andy Collier, Tor Mian, based on a story by Paul Kane.
Starring Barbara Crampton, Sophie Stevens, Ludovic Hughes, Lukas Loughran, Johanna Adde Dahl, Jack Kristiansen, Erik Lundin, Dag Soerlie
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Isaac (Ludovic Hughes) and his very pregnant wife Emma (Sophie Stevens) travel to Norway to claim an inheritance which includes Isaac’s childhood home. The couple plan on this being a quick trip, flip the house, and return in time to have the baby in the states. But once in Norway, Isaac is enchanted with the culture, his lost childhood, and the rich history of the Nordic land. While Emma grows impatient and wants to leave, Isaac feels compelled to stay and take part in strange rituals lead by the town sheriff Ranate (played by Barbara Crampton) which include nighttime meetings worshipping otherworldly gods older than time itself.
Right there in the opening credits, SACRIFICE pays homage to the works of H.P. Lovecraft and while it doesn’t adapt one specific story, the influence is heavy throughout this film. Emma has multiple dreams of tentacles creatures pulling her and Isaac under water and the town does seem to have some kind of fascination with squiddy things. Filmed in Norway, SACRIFICE really does a great job of soaking in the rich and foreboding atmosphere of the Nordic highlands. The rolling hills and still waters make the entire film feel like it was made in an ancient time untouched by man. It’s a fantastic locale to make a horror film.
The acting is strong throughout. Isaac is annoying and sort of an ass, but the character Ludovic Hughes plays is supposed to make you feel that way. Sophie Stevens is strong here and has some well written/well delivered lines, but I preferred her star-making performance in THE HAUNTED over this more cliched role. Barbara Crampton is always a delight to see, though her part is rather small compared to the screen time of the couple. While her Nordic accent sort of comes and goes, her presence gives the movie some gravitas and horror geek cred.
The biggest problem with SACRIFICE is that it’s all dream sequence and very little by way of story. I lost count of the number of nightmares Emma wakes from as slimy tentacles tickle, touch, and wrap around her. I understand that, with her pregnancy, Emma is supposed to be hormonal and sensitive and nightmares are quite common. Still, I think this tactic is repeated way too many times and the law of diminishing returns really acts as a detriment. If you take out the dream sequences, there really isn’t anything that horrifying going on until the punchline at the very end of SACRIFICE.
I really liked the way this film turned out. It is reminiscent of other folksy horror films like MIDSOMMAR, THE WICKER MAN, and HBO’s recent THE THIRD MAN series, but manages to toss in a twist that makes things feel fresh. Unfortunately, the leadup to this end revelation feels kind of fluffy, as if this might have made for a better short story than a full length feature. It’s not a film that’s going to blow you over with earth-shattering revelations. This is a smaller scale film with a more personal punch at the end, but the punch worked for me.