A savagely witty, edge-of-your-seat film
By Gregg Morris
Opened April 29 in New York City at IFC Center, is now available on ON DEMAND and other digital platforms, such as Comcast. Opening May 6 in Los Angeles at the Arena Theatre.
Composer Benedikt Brydern’s percussive minimalistic score brimming at the start of SACRIFICE, starring Radha Mitchell (Dr. Tori hamilton) with Rupert Graves (Rupert Graves) as a married couple experiencing problems making babies, is a savagely witty tipoff to Director Peter A. Dowling’s savagely witty edge-of-your-seat movie with themes, sub themes and subplots with all kinds of twists and turns.
The story unfolds like a racehorse exploding out of its gate. This, pardon my British, is a bloody good horror movie (that is, a horror movie that seems to be staking out new ground in the horror genre) and the blood flows almost as soon as we see Dr. Hamilton, a surgeon, meeting with a patient in her New York office early on in the opening scenes. Uh oh, Dr. Hamilton suddenly hemorrhages from a miscarriage on the spot and, in the blink of an eye – I’m exaggerating for effect but only slightly – we later see her in the Shetland Islands, 100 miles off the coast of Scotland, where she and Rupert have moved and she is starting a new job in the island hospital.
Was the doctor’s sanguinary moment back in in her New York office an omen? Of course it was.
In the blink of an eye, she one day discovers a badly decomposed body on the property of their home. The island forensic specialist opines that the body has been in the ground for many, many years. Eventually, it’s discovered that strange symbols were carved into the dead woman’s flesh and her heart was ripped out. Uh oh! And Dr. Hamilton suspects – uh oh – that this is a fresh kill, pitting her against the island forensic specialist who happens to be a stodgy male with a sinister countenance. Uh oh!
And before our eyes, Dr. Hamilton’s segues into a irresistible forensic sleuth and that development meshes well with numerous imaginative plot feints and devices about sinister things to come, sinister things that might come and a potpourri of other sinister setups, such as father-son relationships, male bonding (a lot of that in this flick), female bonding (certainly not enough) and, of course, the maternal instinct as a force to be reckoned with.
I digress here to say that some early reviews whined that plot stratagems were predictable and easily anticipated but I recall similar whining about M. Night Shyamalan’s THE SIXTH SENSE. True, there are moments in the film were there appear to be similarities to other flicks and also what might be obvious plot tip offs of sinister things to come but Downling’s unflinching storytelling keeps the viewer’s eyes and mind focused on the story that keeps unfolding, practically until the end. What a rush!
One of the real joys of this movie is its rapid pace and that should minimize criticisms of persnickety, nitpicking critics about scenes not to their liking. I luv-ed the experience. SACRIFICE has the potential to become a cult favorite. And should be shared for even greater enjoyment with family members and a bunch of friends – sans kids, however, unless parents really want to plant in their minds the seeds of hideous nightmares.
In her more than 62 screen credits, according to the Internet Movie Database, Radha Mitchell’s portfolio includes some of the best upscale A and B horror and sci-fi movies that have had her fighting off flesh-eating aliens and zombies and even a monster crocodile. She is as much a force to be reckoned with in this movie.
Director/Writer: Peter A Dowling
Producers: Peter Lewis, Tristan Lynch, Aoife O’Sullivan, and Arnold Rifkin
Cast: Radha Mitchell, Rupert Graves, David Robb, and Ian McElhinney
Benedikt Brydern: An award-winning composer and performer. His scores have been featured in film, television and on the concert stage in the United Sates and internationally.
Gregg Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org