One of my biggest dreams as a horror fan is to have a homosexual character at the center of one of those seemingly endless Friday the 13th reboots. But until some major studio comes to its senses – not likely, I suppose – I am grateful that the world has writer-director Shawn Ewert’s (very independent) Sacrament: The Film. This fun backwoods horror epic is particularly impactful due to its focus on Lee (Trey Ford) and Blake (Avery Pfeiffer), a young gay couple, and its look at the poisonous after effects of the violence caused by those belonging to the religious right.
Taking off on a traditional road trip, Lee and Blake and their friends soon find themselves sequestered in a small town for the night. Unfortunately for them, this burg’s residents believe in punishing any that they view as transgressors and, eventually, turning them into food for their ravenously faithful flock. Borrowing heavily from genre favorites like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and more obscure flicks like Terror at Red Wolf Inn, Ewert still makes his mark here by focusing on the hypocrisy and anger of those who, supposedly, live a kind and sacred life. This is, obviously, a timely notion as we live in a climate where bathroom laws and hate bills are being promoted with maniacal zeal.
Nicely, Ewert, as a director, supplies multiple levels, though. It is almost possible to sympathize with the quiet town folk who are bombarded with the obnoxious activities of the film’s central youths – at first. He also pays homage to his influences by casting TTCM mainstays Marilyn Burns and Ed Guinn in smaller yet pertinent roles. Burns, in particular, brings a quiet yet seething intensity to her activities here, making her untimely passing in 2014 feel all the more tragic.
Meanwhile, the rest of the cast also handles itself deftly, a rarity in low budget projects, with Ford’s level headed Lee, Amanda Rebholz’s sensitive and playful Lorri and Joshua Cole Simmons’ understandingly frantic Brahm deserving special notice. Nicely, Ford and Pfeiffer gamely offer up their flesh to the masses as well, counterbalancing the preponderance of female nudity in projects such as this. Unfortunately, this still feels like a social or political act in a genre where bare femininity is the norm and the playing field is rarely leveled.
Granted, there are minor disappointments here. Ewert builds a complex narrative. Thus, his ending could have benefited from some more high stakes escape techniques. It feels a bit abrupt after all that has come before. But, overall, this is a truly solid, admirable – and important effort. Sacrament: The Film offers up all the savage thrills of the tried and true slasher genre while also staking a claim as a statement against bigotry and hate. Bravo!
Sacrament: The Film is now available on iTunes, Amazon and Vudu.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!