Sacrifice sees Isaac and his pregnant wife Emma travel from America to a remote Norwegian island, after he inherits a house there. It transpires the family man was born on the island but whisked away by his mother after she murdered his father. Initially, in true The Wicker Man fashion, the local community are confrontational, but when they find out who Isaac is they suddenly welcome him with open arms and he begins to become overly attached to his childhood home.
Unfortunately, the similarities with the 70s classic end there: Sacrifice has none of the genuine creepiness and subtlety. From minute one, synths stand an inch away, so close one feels their breath, screaming “BAD THINGS ARE GOING TO HAPPEN”. Without them, viewers might think this was a less than amusing rom-com or high-budget holiday video – the music and sound design do all the heavy lifting, grimacing as they do.
Clichés are everywhere. It’s as if the filmmakers think they’ve discovered the endlessly overused horror trope of making viewers think the story is progressing in a certain direction – but aha! No, it was only a dream! Not only do they use it in the most basic, dull fashion, they then repeat it a ridiculous number of times so that it removes any kind of tension. Bu it doesn’t matter – the audience stopped caring a long time ago. Granted, some dialogue scenes are unsettling, but only because they pose the question: who would think any of this is interesting?
It’s never great to tear a film up, particularly when it was probably a labour of love. But when on one level it brings up themes of misogyny, yet at the same time has a completely unnecessary, extended scene of female nudity, there is less to feel bad about.
Technically it works: pieces fit roughly in the right places, there aren’t any stray boom poles or continuity errors, and the cast do their best not to be subsumed in the swamp of terrible dialogue (especially Barbara Crampton and Sophie Stevens, who do pretty well, all things considered). But that’s about as good as it gets.
Sacrifice is released digitally on demand on 15th March 2021.
Watch the trailer for Sacrifice here: