|image courtesy of wikipedia.org|
It has definitely been hard for me to find time to post things here, so allow me to play a bit of catch-up on this wonderful three-day weekend.
I first encountered Ti West when my good friend Dennis showed me The Roost. Now, The Roost isn't an amazing film, but it's good and fun and it really left a lasting impression on me. Treated so that it plays on your screen as though you're watching it late at night in 1986 on a UHF station The Roost is creepy and visually fuzzy and features a wrap-around that seals the deal in my opinion. After that it was a very long wait from the time Mr. West's follow-up The House of the Devil was announced to the time it was actually released. I'd had something like two or three years to stoke my anticipation for The House of the Devil and when it finally played at the one theatre in Los Angeles that it did I took my friend Michael and we were both blown away. This is still one of favorite horror films of all time and I wrote an open letter to Mr. West on my then-stomping ground CHUD.com telling him how much I appreciated someone making a movie of this calibre - let's face it, at that time horror was in perhaps the worst era it'd been in for a while, with a lot of promising films stalled or fighting for distribution (ie Satan Hates You, off the top of my head) and a lot of shite being bandied about by major studios.
I went back and brushed up on the one Ti West film I'd missed, Trigger Man, and found it to be an exercise in efficient indie film making. Trigger Man is a very low-budget but very effective film about very real horror - several friends on a hunting trip in Upstate New York are pinned down by a sniper and slowly picked off one by one. Not as immersive as The House of the Devil - but then not a lot is - Trigger Man stayed with me for a long time after I watched it and served as a nice appetizer as I awaited West's next film, The Innkeepers.
Again, I don't love The Innkeepers as much as I do THOD, but as an entry into the timeline of a director I've long thought will evolve into one of the best of this era it's an important piece. The words slow burn, usually associated with Ti West's films, is appropriate here, however in The Innkeepers Mr. West plays with the idea and consistency of the film's tone in a way that, while it doesn't completely land, made the film interesting and enjoyable in unexpected if uneven ways and no doubt served to strengthen his overall approach/style.
West's entry into the original V/H/S is one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen in a cinema.
Now, The Sacrament. Holy cow, this film just blew me away.
I don't want to say too much, but The Sacrament had me from the opening text. The modern media framework for the story is a fantastic storytelling device and the story itself is both fascinating and horrifying, especially as it takes its cues from a real-life incident. And the acting is top notch. Joe Swanberg and AJ Bowen are becoming must-watch players in the indie realm for me. Gene Jones deserves to at the very least be nominated for an oscar for his performance and Kentucker Audley's portrayal of the character Patrick is, at his end, so chillingly realistic as to engrain his name in my psyche for all time.
The Sacrament is on VOD right now and it's worth every fucking penny. My suggestion? A pair of good headphones to make the immersion complete.