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Film Review: As an Ode to H.P. Lovecraft’s Favorite Creature, “Sacrifice” Delivers Solid Suspense and Mystery, Yet Lacks Delivery and Payoff

Written by: Adam Vaughn | February 8th, 2021

Film poster: “Sacrifice”

Sacrifice (Andy Collier/Toor Mian, 2020) 2½ out of 4 stars.

We are officially part of an era of cinema where filmmakers and storytellers have started to delve into the epic, groundbreaking stories of famous horror and suspense author H.P. Lovecraft. With films such as Color Out of Space and the HBO original series Lovecraft Country, directors and writers have been able to visualize and present Lovecraft stories within various impactful narratives. Newest to the trend is Andy Collier and Toor Mian’s film Sacrifice, a story of a young couple, Isaac (Ludovic Hughes) and Emma (Sophie Stevens), revisiting Isaac’s hometown in Norway, Emma pregnant with their child. As they reacquaint themselves with the small, secluded town and its inhabitants, strange and horrific secrets about Isaac’s past and the town’s current decrepit state – and how the two are connected – lead to the appearance of “The Slumbering One,” a monster of local legend that lives at the bottom of the area’s serene lake.

Sacrifice certainly begins with a clear, effective tone, setting the mood for mysterious circumstances, and establishing that all is not as it seems. The story has various undertones of xenophobia towards the two American lead characters, out of place in isolated Norway, and the theme of pride in one’s heritage takes both sentimental and eerie twists, making the film consistently interesting. The dream sequences that further the suspense of the film consist of strong imagery and are the main driving force to portray the film’s squid-like creature (a clear and refreshing ode to Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, itself), even if those same dream sequences quickly overstay their welcome. The movie’s set design and performance are the film’s absolute strength, with interesting lighting techniques and vibrant cinematography.

Sophie Stevens in SACRIFICE ©Epic Pictures

Unfortunately, Sacrifice starts to resolve in a disappointing way. Certain sequences become major clichés, with character motivations and plot points forgoing sensibility in order to twist and turn the story. The believability of an entire town turning on one pregnant woman (let alone Isaac’s strange and not fully unexplained outcome) starts to both dwindle and turn to a major overused cinematic theme. What’s worse, the entire story rides on the promise of delivering at least some form of monstrous creature towards the ending of the film. While the choice of final imagery rings clever and thematically sound, it also screams low budget and cheats an otherwise satisfactory ending. Sacrifice, however, still satisfies for the viewer seeking a concrete, thrilling story, with sprinkled efforts at deeper thematic content and visually appealing art direction, if not always delivering what the audience hopes for by the end. 


Adam Vaughn is a graduate of the Film & Moving Image program at Stevenson University, with a focus in Cinematography and Production. He also has a minor in Theater and Media Performance. Adam works as a freelance photographer and videographer, focusing his craft on creating compelling photographic and cinematic imagery. Adam is excited to join the Film Festival Today team and explore the world of cinema and visual arts.

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