PLOT: A group of archaeology students head out to research an old sacred Indian burial ground / camp site in the middle of the Florida swampland, the scene of a brutal massacre of a group of students in the 1970s. Once awaken the sacred grounds surface the group's past sins with horrific, and often deadly, results.
REVIEW: There’s nothing easier to turn to when looking for a supernatural force to lay it’s smack down than Indian burial grounds. Ever since POLTERGEIST and PET SEMATARY, Indian burial grounds are the go-to set-up for strange and bizarre shite, from resurrecting the dead to malevolent ghosts, if the land is sacred to the Native Americans, then it’ll probably f*ck some shit up if anyone else happens upon them in a movie.
Hence the case of THE SACRED, which bases the entire movie on the sacred grounds angle, but gives it a slightly different FLATLINERS-esque twist that sets it apart from the rest and ends up being a pretty solid little horror flick that leaped miles above my expectations. Beautifully shot, high production values, creepy music, descent acting, and a cool story made for an entertaining scare flick that seemed to come out of nowhere. And while it wasn’t a perfect movie, it still had more than enough going for it.
For starters, the whole sacred grounds FLATLINERS twist. Throw five college students onto sacred grounds where your sins will come back to literally haunt you (and brutally kill you), you have a hit on your hands. And while the students appear to be fairly normal, low and behold, they turn out to have dark and disturbing pasts, making them not-so-innocent and the perfect prey for the grounds’ intended purposes. And like most young casts in horror flicks, this one has them all: the hunky jock, the douche bag, the slut, the brain, and the good-girl. They all happen to be archeology students, but whatever, I can buy it. The ones that were likeable were likeable and the one’s that sucked really sucked, which is all you can really ask for in a flick like this.
When the terror is unleashed, the blood starts flowing with a vengeance and the students’ past is as horrifying and as scary as anything else. I called out FLATLINERS earlier because, in a way, it’s the same premise: figures they’ve wronged in their past have come back to haunt them and do them serious harm. The setting in the middle of the woods at an abandoned campsite is perfect, calling thoughts of FRIDAY THE 13th and once the shit starts going down, it even feels a bit like CABIN FEVER. It’s definitely a nice mix of supernatural shenanigans and slasher-esque stuck-in-the-woods horror, which added to all the fun.
Not to say that there weren’t any problems. For starters, the film had some serious pacing issues, as the first kill didn’t happen for almost 45 minutes or so, which is just about the half-way mark. For a flick like this, this is waaaaay to long to wait for the something to happen. The set-up and the building of suspense could have happened in half the time, but as it were, there was a lot of waiting. Though on the positive side, it’s very well-shot and therefore, wasn’t excruciating to sit through. The pacing also gets a little dragged out at the end, dragging out the final characters flee from the grounds and quasi-endings that really weren’t needed. One ill-paced scene wouldn’t be noticeable, but it happened a few times—all of which could be fixed with another trip to the editing room and trimming it down about 10-20 minutes. But as it’s just at an hour and a half run-time, this could be a problem.
My only other tick I had with THE SACRED is the casting of the main jock-type dude, and mostly cause he looked about 10 years older than the rest of the cast. They’re in college, he’s middle aged…. Not a big deal, but big enough to notice. Otherwise, THE SACRED ended up being a pleasant entertaining surprise, with plenty of scares and creep-out moments to go around, and an overall premise that you don’t see every day. THE SACRED is an awesome mix of CABIN FEVER, FRIDAY THE 13th, and FLATLINERS. It's high production values, decent performances, solid storyline, and moments of blood-drenched gore launches it beyond other independent horror flicks and offers a quality horror flick with plenty of creepy moments to keep your average horror hound satisfied. While far from perfect, THE SACRED still manages to be a relatively entertaining flick and better than a lot of crap that's out there.