The Sacrifice Game

The Sacrifice Game
The Sacrifice Game
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Horror is back in a big way. Not that it ever really went anywhere, but every genre has its peaks and valleys, which, in Hollywood, have meant that horror lovers have had some very dry recent years. However, the last few years have witnessed a string of brutal releases that have racked up huge numbers of corpses as well as impressive box office returns.

Terrifier and Scream provide throwbacks to the slasher heyday, taking viewers back to when scary movies were made by directors with no budgets or morals. However, there are also groundbreaking re-creations like Happy Death Day. Pearl continues this trend showing how stories about violent killers with sharp objects can be reinvented for new generations and crossed over with any other type of movie.

The Sacrifice Game by Jenn Wexler comes into the picture. The movie commences like typical slasher kind of film that Rob Zombie would likely enjoy immensely before turning much of the traditional formula on its head; resulting into gory tribute to 70s and 80s Satanic Panic and funny macabre Christmas comedy with elements of all other types of scary story imaginable.

Explaining The Sacrifice Game’s plot is difficult since so much relies on not knowing what’s going to happen next because talking about the plot for is so difficult because so much relies on not knowing what’s going to happen next. But here’s what we can tell you: two young girls who are both outcasts are forced to stay at their boarding school over the Christmas break for different reasons. They aren’t friends; indeed they hardly know each other at all but together with their young teacher and guardian who equally hate being stuck in the middle of nowhere for the holidays but are making do with it, they begin forming an unlikely bond.

At the same time, small town America is under siege from a gang of psycho cultists known as ‘the Christmas Killers’ as christened by the press who are ringing doorbells before slaughtering those unfortunate enough to be home and answer.

Worlds eventually collide, and it turns out that they a method in their madness. However, before we get there, we’re treated to some genuinely gruesome kills by our villainous foursome, who are set up early on as being much of the film’s comic relief. This is spearheaded by Mena Massoud from Aladdin fame as ringleader who clearly relishes every minute of his dark side. He also has a team that can at any moment be both horror inducing and stooge-like.

While the movie has plenty of cannon fodder and gallons of blood (and I mean that literally), there are also surprising amounts of genuine character work in it. Georgia Acken, in her first role, absolutely shines here among an ensemble cast where everyone gives great performances. It’s safe to assume she’ll be very busy after this film. She plays Clara whose friendship with Madison Baines’ Samantha drives this film but both their characters have lots of other emotional beats too – between losing body parts or whatever else happens in between.

It all looked great, too. There’s a dance scene in it that is highly reminiscent of the one seen in Ti West’s X and which has the potential to reach the higher upper echelons of other recent viral fare, for example Jenna Ortega’s dance in Wednesday or Daniel Bruhl’s in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Some trippy moments take us back to Dario Argento’s giallo masterpiece, Suspiria. Meanwhile, its dark pseudo-gothic interior makes it perhaps one of the most unwelcoming schools ever created on film getting more sinister as time goes on.

By the third act, when endgame starts to come into focus, some people might find that this film begins to spin its wheels a little bit and gets particularly hammy at times. Depending on your expectations from horror films, you may have no serious complaint about it coming out of watching it. Yet if you love watching villains chew scenery and aren’t above a little morose revenge play then be sure to feel satisfied by this movie’s conclusion.

The Sacrifice Game is completely self-contained work that functions well as an autonomous story. However, its ending takes the classic final girl trope with quite an unusual twist which allows for plenty of future sequels. After all this wouldn’t be a horror movie if there was not any exploration toward new bloody possibilities for its surviving protagonists (who may or may not be who you think they are) with limitless new bodies just waiting to fall away.

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