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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Sect (Blu-ray)
The Sect (Blu-ray)
Scorpion Releasing // Unrated // February 27, 2018 // Region A
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted March 10, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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The Movie:

Directed by Michaele Soavi for co-writer/producer Dario Argento in 1991, The Sect may have been made in the twilight years of the Italian horror boom but don't let that dissuade you. It's an atmospheric and darkly strange tale with some great set pieces, solid performances and an engaging story made by a skilled director and some more than competent associates.

In the California of 1970, we open with a group of hippies having a decadent celebration, a party if you will, complete with goofy little hippie kids that is interrupted when an intense Manson-like figure named Damon (Tomas Arana) arrives. Soon enough Damon and his minions have slaughtered the hippies and he's over talking to an unseen person in a limousine about an event yet to take place.

From there, the film skips to the present day of 1991 and lands in Frankfurt, Germany were we see a man carrying a human heart (Giovani Lombardo Radice) run from the police and then kill himself before they can capture him. From here, an American named Miriam Kreisl (Kelly Curtis) works as a teacher. After she almost has runs over an old man named Moebius Kelly (Herbert Lom), she winds up basically letting the old man stay with her out of guilt. But what at first seemed like a random stroke of bad luck soon turns out to have been premeditated. Before you know it a string of murders has taken place and Mobius appears to be trying to indoctrinate Miriam into a cult of devil worshippers tied into the murders.

If the plot occasionally goes off the rails now and then, it regains traction towards the end and provides a satisfying conclusion. Even when the story does meander, the visuals are strong enough and the performances good enough to keep our attention. You could argue that Soavi could have trimmed the film a bit to speed up the pacing, and you wouldn't be wrong, but even if it is about ten to fifteen minutes longer than it probably needs to be there's still a lot to like about The Sect.

There are shades of Rosemary's Baby here but The Sect carves out its own interesting spot in the Satanic cult sub-genre of horrordom quite nicely. Soavi has always had a knack for loading his horror pictures with fantastic visuals (see Stagefright, The Church or Cemetery Man for more evidence of that) and that trend is just as obvious in this picture as it is in his others. Cinematographer Raffaele Mertes, who shot Trauma for Argento a few years later, does typically excellent work behind the camera framing everything with enough of an artist's eye to ensure that there's always something to catch our attention. Of course, the fact that there's a genuinely great score from the prolific Pino Donaggio doesn't hurt things either. The music that he composed for this particular picture really heightens the tension and the overall weirdness that the film brings to the screen in seriously healthy doses.

The cast is also quite good. Tomas Arana cuts an imposing frame in the opening scene, he's quite intimidating and used well in this role. Herbert Lom tends to steal every scene that he's in, it's hard to imagine anyone doing a better job in this particular part than he; any time he is on the screen we want to know more about what he's up to and why. As to the lead? Kelly Curtis (the older sister of a certain Halloween star) does a really good job here and it makes you wonder why she didn't have a bigger career in genre pictures or even more mainstream fare than she did. She's likeable, attractive and interesting and most importantly, her acting is strong. Supporting work from Mariangela Giordano, Donald O'Brien and the unforgettable Giovanni Lombardo Radice (sadly underused but still fantastic in the small part) add to the fun, and look for uncredited appearances by Daria Nicoladi and director Saovi himself.

The Blu-ray

Video:

The Sect looks really nice on Blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing. Framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition on a 50GB disc, this is a nicely detailed and film-like transfer that shows good texture and excellent color reproduction. The image is free of all but very minor print damage and boasts strong black levels as well. There are no noticeable issues with any compression artifacts nor are there any problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement. Soavi does occasionally employ some soft focus photography in a few scenes, so obviously the detail in these scenes drops down a bit, but that's part of the intended look of the film and not an issue with the disc or the transfer.

Sound:

The English language DTS-HD 2.0 track sounds quite strong. Dialogue is easy to follow and understand, the levels are properly balanced and there are no audible issues with any hiss or distortion. No alternate language or subtitle options are provided.

Extras:

Aside from a trailer for the feature, the disc also includes two interviews, the first of which is with actor Tomas Arana who speaks for twenty-nine minutes about his work on the picture, his thoughts on the story, his character, Soavi as a director and more. The second interview spends twenty-minutes with Michele Soavi himself. Here he speaks about his background, some of his earlier projects, and then of course making The Sect which he speaks about in a fair bit of detail. Both of these interviews are nicely shot and quite interesting.

Final Thoughts:

The Sect holds up well. It's a startlingly strange film that moves at its own deliberate pace but which combines some good performances with fantastic art direction, effective FX work and an engagingly macabre storyline to create something genuinely unique. Scorpion Releasing's Blu-ray looks excellent and sounds quite good, and it also contains a couple of interesting interviews to round out the package. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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