The Sacrament ★★★½

Is Ti West the most marmite director working today? It sure can feel that way when reading reviews.

I've now seen three of his pictures, and count me on the love side.

Many viewers seem bothered by West's appropriation here of the Jonestown Massacre, feeling it's disrespectful and exploitative. I disagree.

I can't know what it was like to stumble across those bodies and try to piece together what led to the suicide and murder of 1000 people. Nor does the film try to explain it all. By dramatizing the last 18 or so hours, presented through the eyes of some hipster reporters, we only get snippets of what went down. The shock and fear come through loudly, and we're left asking WHY. Just as those who discovered the event must have done. The answers have to come later, and I don't blame the film for not giving them.

From a tech standpoint, it's not flawless. Some of the reporters' dialogue can be silly, and a few shots don't feel like they would have been filmed in context.

But it looks wonderful. The cult leader's performance is brilliant (he deserved a supporting actor nom). And the shock and questions are genuine.