From writer/director David Creed and producer Mark Kenna comes Sacrilege, a UK-made horror film in the same vein as titles like Midsommar (2019) and The Ritual (2017), or even The Wicker Man (1973). The film follows Kayla, Trish, Blake, and Stacy (Tamaryn Payne, Emily Wyatt, Sian Abrahams, and Naomi Willow) as four lifelong friends who are headed off to a remote lodge in the woods for a weekend getaway. Unbeknownst to them, the townfolk are preparing to offer them up to their pagan Goddess as a Solstice offering.
As is common with films in this genre, the action only picks up in the latter half of the film, with the first hour or so used to build the characters, the mystery, lore, and suspense. Sacrilege tries to follow this formula, and I suppose that it does succeed in its own way. All the boxes were checked and all the steps followed, but Sacrilege never really felt very engaging. I cared nothing for the cast and the writing was underwhelming, sometimes just plain bad. I felt no connection at all to characters, which is vital in any horror genre film as you need to be either cheering on the killer, jeering on the deplorables, or praying that your screen-crush survives the night.
I do need to highlight what was enjoyable before we get to what was not. For those seeking gore and more, we have some death by antlers, seemingly spontaneous human combustion, and some healthy impalements. There were (thankfully) no forced jump scares and the film genuinely tries to build its horror through tension and character development. There was a good use of themes as the film takes a deep look at sexual assault and the trauma that it causes, and we get some queer romance through the rekindling of old flames. The cinematography was also pretty decent and coupled nicely with what was a thoughtful score. It was also well-paced, with no scenes dragging on or feeling sluggish.
What then went wrong? I’d guess a lack of experience. This is writer/director Creed’s debut film and although he managed to do a lot on what was obviously a limited budget, there were glaring issues that I could not look past. I’ve already mentioned my inability to connect–on any level–with the cast, but I felt that the writing itself was not where it needed to be. This film has been done before, and oftentimes a lot better than how it was executed with Sacrilege. The dialogue was too simple, the characters too generic and the plot too familiar. The various tropes like the hitchhiker, groundskeeper and the token old women have all been played out and I found myself feeling like I was rewatching a film that I did not enjoy the first time around.
Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Sacrilege will be available on digital download from 27th September and can be pre-ordered on iTunes here and Apple TV here. If you enjoy this style of film, perhaps give it a chance. Maybe you’ll have more luck connecting to the characters than I did. Trailer and artwork below.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.