Jessica Alba, Lily Rabe (from the American Horror Story) and Thomas Jane (from The Mist fame) star in this low-budget horror film and I admit, the star cast itself made me want to see the movie. Its on Netflix and its fairly a recent release, so I was like why not. The movie has some surprises which I didn’t anticipate, so I am making sure this review does not have spoilers.
It connects to a true story about Jim Jones, played by Thomas Jane and how he ordered mass suicides, which resulted in the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a deliberate act until the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Plot and Script
25 years after a cult commits what looks like a mass-suicide, the lone survivor Sarah Hope (Rabe) decides to go back to the house where it all happened. Only this time, she has Alba and her crew to film her reactions. Alba has another motive – she is the daughter of the FBI agent who raided the place and her father committed suicide just days after the raid. Alba feels connected to Rabe because the same incident destroyed both their families. Upon arriving at the crime scene, weird things start happening and they discover tapes that the leader of the cult, Jane had recorded. They find out the main purpose of the cult was not just to follow their leader, but more sinister.
Without going into details, the plot has major holes. There is no explanation about how the crew who is watching the tape is able to see the incidents like they were actually there – and so you as the audience, is even more confused. The first 30 minutes is really interesting but then it starts tumbling down without logic.
Characterization and Acting (C&A)
Thomas Jane gives a great performance as the leader of the cult and you can see why people would follow him. Its amazing how some of these guys can brainwash an entire sect but that’s the power that ordinary people give these guys.
Alba and Rabe were just ok, no great shakes. The others didn’t have much of a part to play.
The thing that annoyed me most was that when weird things start happening, they would be like, ya okay, this is nothing. Wouldn’t you be on the edge? Wouldn’t you not volunteer to go alone into a house where you heard whispers?
Well, our characters did all those stupid things and more.
Sounds and Effects (S&E)
Another thing I hate about horror movies nowadays are the nonsensical jump scenes. Just putting a loud noise with a sudden break in the visual is not called a jump scare people, its just noise. I think some of the more nuanced filmmakers understand that – like James Wan. When you see his movies, you will realize that he uses sounds to build up the tension, not just use a loud sound to make you jump.
Cinematography and Visuals (C&V)
A large part of the movie is in the dark, so it is a little difficult to see but the I like the look of the film. It is deliberately washed out to convey the tragedy. The old films of the cult also show the 70s/80s where everything was so sepia and hippie.
Direction and Overall (D &O)
I wish the movie didn’t take a super-natural turn. The first half hour had so much promise. And I wish the story explained more of what was happening – the reactions to some of the incidents in the house were just idiotic and unexplained.
So here are my scores:
Plot and Script (P&S)- 0.5
Characterization and Acting (C&A) – 1
Sounds and Effects (S&E) – 1
Cinematography and Visuals (C&V) – 1.5
Direction and Overall (D &O) – 1
Overall Score – 5 out of 10
Watch it if you are really really bored and you have tonnes of time, its on Netflix.