THE SACRIFICE GAME
Starring: Mena Massoud, Olivia Scott Welch, Chloë Levine, Madison Baines, Georgia Acken, Derek Johns, and Laurent Pitre
Director: Jenn Wexler
This film has been reviewed by Nick, Paige, and Quentin as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2023 Fantasia International Film Festival.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed The Sacrifice Game overall, but there was a tonal change director Jenn Wexler needed to make that would have greatly improved the film: she should have indulged the camp. It would have made Mena Massoud's over-the-top villain resonate more, and took better advantage of the child actors if it had just leaned into the ridiculous more. In not making that decision, the film is relegated to “just another film I saw at Fantasia” instead of one I care to revisit like The Mortuary Collection and Martyrs Lane.
The Sacrifice Game starts strong enough, with a 1970s punk rock ambiance that I really dug. However, as the movie goes on, you realize that’s about all it has going for it. The acting is pedestrian to downright awful, with multiple actors giving “poor man’s [insert actor]” vibes (it’s near impossible to look at Olivia Scott Welch here and not be reminded of Sydney Sweeney). On top of that, the overall story and script, while offering plenty of bloody-soaked opportunities to generate true horror, feels very made-for-tv, which I guess will put it right at home when it premieres on Shudder this fall.
Jenn Wexler’s latest film, The Sacrifice Game, transports us back to the 1970s for a bloody holiday slasher. The moody, atmospheric horror flick throws a number of genre tropes into its story, but still manages to keep viewers mostly on their toes throughout. But, after a decent first half, I felt myself losing interest in the second half because of its predictability. While it’s not the hidden gem I had hoped it would be due to its subpar script, it is well-served by its performances and setting.