A haunting, dreamlike slow burn, Sator is a horror film for the film fanatic but not so much the everyman.
Written, directed and produced over five years by first time director Jordan Graham, Sator enjoyed a successful worldwide premiere at Fantasia and UK premiere at Abertoir Horror Festival. The film stars Gabe Nicholson, Michael Daniel, Rachel Johnson & June Peterson and follows the story of a broken family being observed by Sator; a supernatural entity who is attempting to claim them for his own.
Sator is, in my humble opinion, probably going to end up the next VVITCH (2015). I feel that it is definitely going to polarize audiences; some will have the take away that they’ve just watched a fantastic slow-burn horror with a dark and haunting story…a carefully woven tale of dread and ambience. Others are going to walk away disappointed while probably calling it boring, confusing, or simply a waste of time. How, then, do these movies manage to create such a schism between genre lovers? Why are folks going to be acting like they watched two different films? Why the divide? Strangely enough, I think it comes down to why we watch horror films.
I loved it. Sator takes you on a journey to a world off the grid and into the lives of a family squarely rooted in the old ways. The characters are delicious and the story builds scene for scene, constantly fleshing out and expanding on its mythology. Like with VVITCH, we get a family-centric slow-burn that has a supernatural creature as the antagonist, but that creature plays only the smallest of parts in the film itself while at the same time being ever-present in the atmosphere and in the minds of our protagonists. Like with VVITCH, CGI is used sparingly but to great effect. Like with VVITCH, there is a constant element of doubt in the mind of the watcher, forcing us to question what is real and what is not. Now, I don’t usually like comparing apples and oranges as there are clear distinctions that I’m sure you’re already pointing out while reading this, I just want you to understand that the two films share the same kind of atmosphere, which is going to help us answer that previous question.
I watch horror films for escapism. I want to be taken somewhere else or experience something new. I want to see something that’s going to impress my imagination. In the same way that Midsommar (2019) transports us to a completely new experience in Sweden with its flowers and heavenly visuals, Sator (2019) drags us to down to the bleak forests and dark woods of backwater America. It was stark and vivid yet purposefully suffocating and depressing, so much so that you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. The interactions between the characters also felt real and human.
So why will people hate it? The film is very slow, more so than expected. It could probably have been edited down to something shorter but then it wouldn’t really be a feature-length film, would it? It’s also pretty gloomy and not all that scary sans a few scenes; it’s more eldritch terror than it is jump scares and scary noises. If you like the films in The Conjuring franchise that churn out constant CGI ghoulies, creepy child laugh tracks, and a jump scare every 7 minutes, this is definitely not going to float your little boat. This is not a Jason or Freddy or Mike Myers slasher, not it is your “camper in the forest attacked by some creature of the night.” It is not a popcorn flick and more often than not, that is what the audience wants. VVITCH, Hereditary, Midsommar, Sator…films that people love yet also love to hate.
Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Trailer and poster below. Sator will available on UK Digital Download platforms from 15th February & DVD from 22nd February and can be pre-ordered on iTunes here
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.