After the death of his mother, expectant couple Isaac (Ludovic Hughes) and Emma (Sophie Stevens) return to his birthplace, a remote Norwegian island which he left over two decades prior. As the couple tie up the loose ends, they learn some of the less savory parts of Isaac’s past, some of which come from the local sheriff Renate (Barbara Crampton). The three search for the truth, leading them to a mysterious cult which worships a sea-dwelling monster with ancient origins.
Based on the story “Men of the Cloth” by Paul Kane, Andy Collier and Toor Mian’s Sacrifice is a psychological horror with a monstrous twist, with a hefty helping of Cthulhu mythos thrown into the mix. Thing is, the biggest selling point of the film is the supporting role of horror legend Barbara Crampton, and while she does well as the sheriff Renate, this isn’t enough to take this film as deep as it wants to go. She’s the best part about this film, but sadly, that’s not a high bar to clear.
What I will praise are the handful of nightmare sequences that Isaac and Emma experience throughout. They are outlandish and portray some inner desires of those who are having them, but the escalation from the more or less harmless (Renate’s daughter skinny-dipping, which tempts the father-to-be Isaac) to the shocking, “drop everything” (Emma goes into labor at the low-key worst time) works.
What doesn’t work is the escalation towards the cult reveal and the creature. For a Lovecraftian horror, the effects are painfully obvious computer animation, and not even well done animation. It also feels like the last ten to fifteen minutes are rushed, as if there was either a) more to the story that had to be cut for one reason or another, or b) the writers realized they needed to wrap things up and sprinted for the end, not realizing that the proverbial rock was in their running path. While the climactic decapitation (no spoiling who gets beheaded) is an impactful one, again, it falls short of being worth the build.
For those who are dedicated to the Cthulhu mythos and all that it encompasses, or for diehard fans of Megan Halsey herself, Barbara Crampton, Sacrifice is a fun ninety minutes. Going just below the surface of the water, though, leaves much to be desired and not much to be fulfilled. The mind games aren’t as fleshed out as they should be, the ending fizzles out to virtually nothing, and it makes the hour-plus preceding it feel like a waste.
Sacrifice is available now on VOD via Dread Pictures.