Written by Jenn Wexler and Sean Redlitz, The Sacrifice Game (2023) is a horrifying delight. The film is equal parts wholesome and unsettling, brutal and warm, inspiring and terrifying. After you’ve watched it, you will probably want to call your best friend just to say hi, not something you often feel leaving a horror film.
Wexler also directed the film, with Cinematography by Alexandre Bussiére. Its visuals, especially its opening sequence, are stunning. And if you somehow missed her previous film The Ranger (2018), I’d make your viewing a double feature.
In some ways it goes harder than you’d expect with graphic and creative kill scenes, and in other ways it inspires more vulnerability than we’re used to in horror. But the audience isn’t caught up on the genre as we watch, Wexler creates a perfect seamless balance.
The Sacrifice Game evokes Heathers, Suspiria (IYKYK), Halloween, Helter Skelter, The Last House on The Left and to quote Jenn, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The film stars Mena Massoud, Olivie Scott Welch and Chloë Levine (The Ranger). One of my favorite elements of this film is the comedy. We get this through punchy jokes, hilarious cuts and a story that makes fun of its own characters at times.
For many reasons, The Sacrifice Game belongs on your December watchlist. One of them being it’s tie to Christmas. And you know how much we love holiday horror. And you also know how I feel about academic horror, which this certainly is, even if class isn’t in session.
It’s interesting to look at some of the similarities and differences between The Ranger and The Sacrifice Game. Both are period pieces, both involve a gang of some sort, surprising endings and complicated characters. But both stand firmly on their own feet, and both deserve your time.
The Sacrifice Game hits Shudder on December 8th.