SACRIFICE (2020) Reviews of Lovecraftian cosmic horror

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‘Dream well’
Sacrifice is a 2020 American horror film in which a man and his pregnant wife Emma return to the remote Norwegian island of his birth. Ostensibly, the couple is there to deal with the death of the man’s mother and an unexpected inheritance. However, they find themselves caught in a nightmare as an ancient cosmic horror awakens to claim a birthright of its own.

Written and directed by Andy Collier and Toor Mian (Charismata), adapted from Paul Kane’s short story ‘Men of the Cloth’, the Hydra Films RKM-Loose Canon Films production stars Barbara Crampton (Stay Out Stay Alive; Replace; We Are Still Here; From Beyond), Sophie Stevens, Ludovic Hughes, Lukas Loughran, Johanna Adde Dahl and Jack Kristiansen.

Sacrifice probably sets an unenviable record for the most egregious abuse of the “suddenly waking from a nightmare” trope in a single motion picture. When a supposedly scary script leans this hard on fleeting visions to falsify frights, it’s a simple matter to see that the story doesn’t have the substance to do the heavy lifting as horror.” Culture Crypt

Sacrifice is a slow burn of a film, where the strange effect that the cult has on the couple slowly seeps into their everyday life. It sometimes feels slower-paced than necessary […] Sacrifice tries to set itself apart from other cult horror films with its Lovecraftian influences, but there isn’t enough Lovecraft, or originality, for it to really stand out.” Flickering Myth

” …Sacrifice is most definitely a wintry film, channeling it’s best Arendelle at times, and generating a misty and moody ambience. It shares the slow pace of both The Wicker Man and Midsommar; Collier and Mian tease the audience, relishing in squeezing suspense and intrigue from every inch of celluloid, in order to maximise audience participation. We all love a good mystery, and Sacrifice has that in abundance.” The Hollywood News

“Being based on a short story, it feels like a lot of the meat of said content wasn’t ever chewed, or seasoned, or even looked at and compared to illustrations from a high school human anatomy test book. Sacrifice attempted to leave an impression, and though it looks pretty in passing –  though only at times – it never settles into something consistent enough to take seriously.” Killer Horror Critic

“What was once the stuff of paranoid fantasies is now almost comfortingly familiar – robed groups chanting by night, escalating tensions within the marriage as the Pickmans take different positions on the island, friendly-folksy-sinister people offering help that really isn’t helpful, and a general assumption (nudged by the title) that this is all going to end up with something dreadful happening to someone…” The Kim Newman Web Site

“Both The Deep Ones and last years Color Out of Space, as well as a myriad of other Lovercraftian horror I’ve enjoyed over the years, had a sense of fun about them; the darkness of Lovecraft’s work balanced out with humour – dark humour and black comedy yes, but humour nonetheless. Here there is none and so Sacrifice ultimately seems more of a chore to sit through – even if it is punctuated by some rather disturbing imagery…” Nerdly

Sacrifice offers a blurring of identities and genres, all of which combine not just to create a pretty, multi-hued picture, but to confuse – and lose – the viewer in wave after wave of community conspiracy and mystic manipulation. Andy Collier and Toor Mian’s cosmic folk horror entraps the viewer along with its central couple.” Projected Figures

“Having horror royalty Barbara Crampton on board will certainly raise the profile of the film with some and she’s great here – even with a slightly dodgy Norwegian accent. Sophie Stevens is the standout here, though […] Ultimately, it’s an intriguing take on Nordic folk horror with some genuinely sinister moments.” Starburst

” …the film is certainly folk horror, as the village, with its creepy totems, peculiar pagan practices and seductive temptresses, sits somewhere on the map between The Wicker Man and Midsommar. Yet all the ancient sea gods, tentacular visions, Cthulhu-like effigies, and the dominance of unearthly purples and oranges – extending beyond the night sky’s aurora borealis to the film’s interior palettes – all point to the cosmic horror of HP Lovecraft.” VODzilla

“The ending is a bit underwhelming, and its small fishing island sometimes seems a bit too small and underpopulated […] Sacrifice mixes some quite good performances, especially from Crampton, with cleverly surreal imagery and a quiet, unsettling tone that makes it more than worth the viewer’s while.” Without Your Head

Sacrifice had its world premiere at the virtual Arrow Video FrightFest on October 22nd 2020. Epic Pictures has acquired distribution rights for their Dread imprint.

Press blurb:
“We couldn’t be more excited to team up with Epic/Dread – to bring this tale of Lovecraftian horror to the world”, says Collier and Mian. “What would happen if you found yourself face to face with cosmic forces that are utterly malevolent and yet supremely indifferent to the lives, hopes and dreams of humanity? Madness and violence I expect. But no spoilers…”

“I love Epic Pictures/Dread and have worked with them on many titles before”, said Barbara Crampton. I’m beyond thrilled for Sacrifice to have found the perfect home. With truly wonderful performances from Sophie Stevens and Ludovic Hughes, this haunting tale directed by creative duo, Toor Mian and Andy Collier, lulls us in with the majestic beauty of Norway. It then drags us into a frightening nightmare, where a deep and dark secret dwells. Our only escape is to become part of something both demanding and all-consuming. A thing so horrible and indescribable forcing us to an impossible choice: utter madness or death.”

Cast and characters:
Barbara Crampton … Renate
Sophie Stevens … Emma
Ludovic Hughes … Isaac
Lukas Loughran … Gunnar
Johanna Adde Dahl … Astrid
Jack Kristiansen … Ledvor
Erik Lundin … Hallstein
Dag Soerlie … Matias

Filming locations:
London, England

Technical details:
1 hour 27 minutes

The original title appears to have been The Colour of Madness. Not to be confused with several other films also titled Sacrifice.


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