Story Details

Horror Releases: Sator (2021) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 1213 days ago on Entertainment - Jordan Graham’s Sator is a personal piece for him.  His dearly departed grandmother, June Peterson, battled dementia in her final years, and during that time, she claims to have been frequently visited by a spirit guardian named Sator.  Encouragedby a medium to practice spirit writing, the grandmother wrote volumes regarding this entity, and would relay his oftentimes ominous messages to her family.  Graham had the foresight to record these moments with her, and from that, the inspiration sprung for this horror film. Interspersed with Hi-8, 4:3, black and white footage of June Peterson and her chilling writings, Graham’s darkly stunning Sator tells the tale of a broken family coping with theirdysfunction, all the while attempting to unravel the mystery of the supernatural being who haunted their grandmother’s every thought in her later years.  Fantasy and reality merge here, and the real June becomes the grandmother for this small fictitiousfamily through some creative storytelling. Adam (Gabe Nicholson) lives in a secluded cabin in the woods, and despite seeming like the rustic everyman by day as he hunts deer and bonds with his loyal dog — by night, his priorities dramatically shift.  He listens to his grandmother’s ponderings about Sator as he falls asleep at night, attempting to make sense of her haunting recollections.  Meanwhile, his deer cam shows mysterious robed figures coming ever closer to his cabin, and he has more than a minor suspicion that these sightings are related to his grandmother’s prophecies. Sator is astonishing on many levels, the first of which being how many hats Graham wears for this film.  He is the sole writer, director, composer, and cinematographer, while sharing a producer credit with two others.  It’s no exaggeration to say this small film is almost entirely him, but it has the polish of a much larger independent film.  Drenched in darkly satisfying visuals, Sator simultaneously compels and unsettles with its minimalistic approach to horror. A slow-burn tale at its core, the film prefers moody imagery and droning ambient score to set the tone far more than it does exposition, and it works to the film’s advantage.  Less is more here, and the scant dialogue gives breathing room for more interesting subtexts to emerge.  The scarce amount of narration we are given allows viewers to place themselves into the mindset of Adam and his siblings, who know something is amiss, but are not entirely sure what.  Sator has a confidence about its folkloric mystery with a level of nature-drenched immersion akin to The Blair Witch Project:  The woods undeniably feel like the protagonist here, but to what end?     The frightening moments get under the skin far more than they make one jump, and once we have a full glimpse of what terrors lurk inside the woods, they inspire unsettling awe.  Fans of the occult will revel in these majestically malevolent maskedbeings, who do little more than simply be present to yield a sinister yet satisfying air.  Aesthetically pleasing and coated with unspoken implications, the scares leave much to the imagination, and kudos to Graham for choosing to go this route as a newer director.  He understands how to show, not tell, and this will take him far.Sator doesn’t give you all the answers, nor should it.  While some horror fans will criticize it for this very reason, it’s exactly the way this story needed to be told.  Blending palpable, relatable familial unrest with a much less tangible, otherworldly presence, Jordan Graham gives audiences something very special and eerily beautiful.  Better yet, it memorializes his grandmother in an unconventional yet befitting way.  In a Q&A, Graham said that his family tried to bury his grandmother’s dementia alongside her, but by bringing her tales to the surface, he has given her new life.—Andrea Riley   (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? "https:" : "http:") + '//'; var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr); })();

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