Sunday was the first quiet day of TIFF with most, myself included, opting for brunch over the early morning screenings. I spent most of the day writing and occasionally venturing outside to enjoy the beautiful sunny weather after the previous day’s downpour. Finally around 5pm I checked into the Hot Docs Cinema for Ti West’s found footage film, The Sacrament.
Really to call The Sacrament a found footage film or even to categorize it as a horror film at all is an unfair discredit to what West has created. In what may be to the chagrin of purists, West quickly breaks the rules of a found footage film with plenty of effective two shots that push the limits of believability. However the rule bending allows for a vastly more cinematic experience than the likes of such jump-scare tactic films like Paranormal Activity or REC. The Sacrament follows a VICE documentary crew as they travel to a secluded commune after a curious letter arrives from the sister of Patrick, the photographer. They investigate the all too paradisiacal community and discover a much darker secret lurks beneath the surface. What was a seemingly utopian community gives way to a deluded cult under the guidance of its charismatic leader. The Sacrament is an effective and expertly paced thriller with a convincing cast that grabs an audience’s investment and doesn’t let go.
After a thoroughly impressive premiere of The Sacrament I bailed on friends and films and planted myself firmly in front of the only bar showing Sunday’s episode of Breaking Bad. My unwavering obsession has caused me to hike 20 miles in Iceland in order to view the premiere, and now I gladly abandoned my festival duties in order to view what I believed would be a game changing episode for the series. I could not have been more right. After last week’s somewhat slowly paced episode we kicked back into high gear as we learned Todd has a crush, and delighted in Walt and Hank’s game of cat and mouse. However as things progressed in what was perhaps the most predictable episode this season, we reached the point of no return. With only three more episodes remaining following "To’hajiilee", as soon as momentum picked up the pieces started falling into place.
As the episode ended on a cliffhanger shootout that wins Vince Gilligan the official title of “World’s Biggest Cocktease”, there’s only a handful of possible outcomes left. Hank’s final “I love you” to Marie seemed to seal his fate and with the future knowledge that Walt isn’t in a prison cell there’s not much hope that any lawmen will survive this encounter. Perhaps the most surprising revelation was Walt’s preference to admit defeat rather than dispose of Hank. Could Walt’s flashes of remaining humanity indicate there might be a moment of redemption when it all ends? In what many dreaded would be Jesse’s swan song, there seemed to be an indicator that perhaps he would live to fight another day. Next week’s Ozymandias holds the answers as an empire falls, and brings the promise of a another series high point with Rian Johnson returning to the director’s chair.
As I near the end of my TIFF coverage Monday holds a close personal meaning with a morning screening of Philomena. A pulse-raising experience with the highly praised sci-fi thriller Gravity, and some time to unwind with a free show by indie Toronto band Grounders.
Nate Abernethy is a magical sprite we captured and forced to do film reviews. He somehow also wound up with a twitter account @NateAbernethy