Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Sacrifice (2016)

 Peter A. Dowling

WRITER: Peter A. Dowling


Radha Mitchell
Rupert Graves
Joanne Crawford
Ian McElhinney
Hilary Rose
David Robb
Liam Carney
Peter Vollebregt
Conor Mullen
Bernadette Brown


Tora Hamilton is a consultant surgeon who loses her unborn baby during one of her consultations. Tora and her husband Duncan decide to move to the Shetland Islands to try and move on from the pain of their recent loss. When Tora begins working in the local hospital. The discovery of a preserved woman's body that had her unborn baby removed from her stomach leads her to investigate further deaths that uncover a dark secret about the island.

I went into Sacrifice not really knowing anything about the movie. I hadn't really seen any promotion for the film at all. It sort of just came out and was dumped on demand and that was it. The thing that caught my eye initially was the poster featuring Radha Mitchell. I've been a big fan of the Australian actress for a very long time. Ever since I first saw her in the Sci-Fi Horror film Pitch Black back in 2000. I had to give the movie a chance based solely on the fact that she is the lead actress in Sacrifice.

I think after watching Sacrifice. I now understand why the film wasn't really released into any cinemas and was only thrown onto demand. The movie feels like an almost made for TV movie. Living in the UK for two years and sitting down at night to watch television. Sacrifice could've been an episode of Midsomer Murders, Prime Suspect, or Inspector Morse. The mystery in this movie has all the makings of a television special. It just doesn't feel very cinematic or one that is made for the big screen.

I think any horror or thriller movie that features an island these days will draw similar comparisons to other movies. Throw in rituals or a cult, and you can bet that I'll think that the movie is inspired by The Wicker Man. While the films are different, I felt while watching Sacrifice that director Peter A. Dowling may have watched The Wicker Man a few times and had it as his inspiration as the feel of this movie has a very similar look and tone to that classic piece of ritualistic cinema.

The movie starts off rather well. After a pretty bloody opening and the first reveal of a woman's body that has had her unborn child removed from her stomach. I was under the impression that the subject matter would get pretty nasty within the movie. After all, the poster does feature quite a bit of blood. Once the mystery begins to unravel in the second act, the movie never really gets much worse than the first reveal. We are given more insight into the murders, but it's never that shocking. The movie sort of just plateaus after the first fifteen minutes.

The most rewarding element of Sacrifice is the budding relationship between Tora and the female sergeant in town. Usually, I find that a lot of horror movies have the police dismiss or are quick to brush off our main protagonist but in Sacrifice, I loved that our female sergeant took every single accusation and piece of information on board. She never once passed judgment on our main character or second-guessed her or claimed that she was crazy. It felt like such a relief to have the police officer believe the main character.

A problem that I found with Sacrifice was the ending reveal and twist. While not every element of the twist was immediately predictable. I had guessed pretty early on that the movie wasn't going with a lone murder mystery and we had a bigger conspiracy on our hands. A situation that involves not just one person but a whole island. Once the reveal happened, I was sort of disappointed as the twist didn't feel very original. It's one that's been used in a few movies in the past.

Visually, I think Sacrifice had some gorgeous cinematography as the movie is set in Scotland. We have a lot of beautifully filmed scenes around the Shetland Islands. The film uses the island location as much as possible and doesn't keep much of the action indoors. A lot of the stuff that happens within the movie is mostly filmed outdoors, so while I was watching the film, I felt like I want to go and visit this stunning location.

Lastly, we come to the acting. It was rather impressive. My favourite performances came from Radha Mitchell and Joanne Crawford who played our main character and female sergeant. I really felt their roles and chemistry worked more than Radha and Rupert Graves. I must not put down Rupert Graves performances as I did find that he has quite a lot of screen presence and his role even when being made to look like a suspect, I still found his performance charismatic.



- A bloody miscarriage.
- A corpse is unearthed (Baby removed from the womb).
- An arm is slammed in a door.
- Someone falls off a bridge.
- Someone is burnt alive.
- Someone is stabbed in the chin with a knife.

Sacrifice is a film that may appear to be cinematic in terms of quality but feels much more like a made for television murder mystery. This has the makings of a Midsomer Murder episode. What Sacrifice gets right is a decent cast who give it their all, a great female dynamic between our two main characters and a pretty nasty opening scene. Other than that, the movie feels like it falls short of getting to the same heights of something like The Wicker Man but much better than it's terrible remake.

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