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David House [Celluloid 02.03.21] horror

Much of Sator takes place in a cabin in the woods, but this is definitely not your typical 'cabin in the woods' horror film where a half dozen airhead teens partying for the weekend get picked off one by one by a monster or a maniac.

Adam is living alone in the cabin, but for the company of his dog. He spends his time obsessively combing through old family albums and taking long walks in the forest, thinking about the family secrets, of his mother's mental illness, and his grandmother's obsession with the spirit Sator who she insists talks to her. He listens to hours of his mother's strange ramblings on a pile of cassettes and revisits the scribbles of automatic writing where Sator "talked to her in her head."

The film mixes 4:3 aspect with widescreen and black and white footage with colour. It starts slowly with very little dialogue other than some indistinct mumblings; the camera wandering through the forest creating a spooky, creepy, unsettling and very enigmatic atmosphere. The film has a terrific soundscape which is a strong and powerful element of the film.

The cinematography is outstanding, especially in the old-growth California coastal rainforest, which is also an important part of the film. The towering trees, mist and fog, shadows and darkness, rain and snow, fallen trees and gurgling streams all add to the genuinely disturbing atmosphere of the film. Images of dogs and wolves, deer skulls, and antlers fill Adam's dreams and nightmares as the movie moves towards the climax in the dark of night, deep in the dense forest.

Of special note is the performance of June Peterson as the grandmother. This is her first screen appearance and she's outstanding. However the biggest accolades must go to Jordan Graham, who is not only the writer/director of the film but over the 5 years that it took to make it, also created the music and wore the hats of cinematographer and editor.

I highly recommend that you turn off the lights, crank up the volume and take this journey; this descent into a haunting madness that is a wonderful addition to the world of folk/horror cinema.

Sator is will be available for purchase and rental on February 9.

Recommended Release: Sator

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