31 Days of Reviews: Sacrifice (2016)

After discovering the body of a murdered woman on her property, Dr. Tora Hamilton is determined to figure out what happened to her. With all signs pointing to pagan sacrifice, Tora is warned to drop the matter. She soon discovers ancient secrets that will affect her life and those around her.

Sacrifice is a 2016 thriller starring Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill, The Crazies) and Rupert Graves (Sherlock, V for Vendetta), directed by Peter A. Dowling. It’s an adaptation of a book of the same name by Sharon Bolton.

Set in the remote Shetland Islands of Scotland, Sacrifice has the perfect backdrop for a mystery. The setting is remote and beautiful with a classic look that seems to just drip history. It’s not surprising to soon find that the quaint, small town has its fair share of secrets, and these secrets aren’t innocent.

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 7.10.44 PM

I think the location was really one of the best things about Sacrifice. The story isn’t exactly a bad one, and the setting really helps to sell it all. I’m a fan of Radha Mitchell. I like her in most of the work she’s done. This movie is no exception. Rupert Graves does well in his supporting role as well.

Even though I did like the overall story that Sacrifice is trying to tell, I was a bit let down by its delivery. See, the story on its own is nothing new. Our main character does a bunch of detective work, finds out a bunch of details that she strings together to formulate a story, and nobody believes her. We’ve seen it countless times. Despite being familiar, it still could have been good.

There are moments in the story that just don’t make sense. You have to really suspend your disbelief to follow along. This is most prominent at the beginning, the catalyst to the overall story. It goes like this.

Dr. Hamilton finds a dead horse in her backyard. She’s understandably sad about it. She sees a huge piece of farm equipment for digging holes in her backyard. A hole is dug. Dr. Hamilton jumps into this hole. She finds the dead body.

If that description seems a bit far fetched and disjointed to you, that’s because it is. I can accept the fact that this doctor from New York suddenly knows how to operate farm equipment. I can accept that she happens to dig a hole in the exact spot in her vast backyard that the body is buried. I can even accept that she thought it was a good idea to jump in the muddy hole. What I can’t accept is how poorly put together that sequence is.

The lack of flow in the editing and story sequencing is probably my least favorite part of this movie. It feels like we’re just jumping from one scene to the next. Whether it’s a sudden cut without the flow of motion or one of the many fades to black that are used, the edit lacks a fluid motion. It lacks the life and energy to keep the viewer invested.

In terms of cinematography, the creators tried to be artsy. They tried to be Hitchcock. The beauty of the location can only help so far. For the most part, I felt a lot of the shots fell flat. With the exception of a few moments throughout the entire movie, I didn’t feel the tension. I didn’t feel the suspense. I could tell that the feeling was supposed to be there, but I just didn’t feel it.

Overall, Sacrifice feels like a lot of missed opportunities. They had a good cast, a decent story to work with, a beautiful location, but there was so much more they could have done to really utilize that. As a result, it ends up being average at best.

I wouldn’t outright recommend this one, but if you happen to stumble across Sacrifice on Netflix when you have some time to kill, it may be worth it for you.

[This is normally where I’d include a trailer, but the trailer for this movie gives away the entire movie. Why they gotta do that?]

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