The Sacrifice Game movie review (2023) – Ericatement

Meanwhile, a quartet of killers give speeches and slouch around with slicked back hair, sideburns, turtle necks, leather jackets, and other fetish-ready vintage/period looks. Jude (Mena Masoud), the leader, gives orders and preens while long-haired paranoiac Doug (Laurent Pitre) envies Jude’s flirty connection with Maisie (Olivia Scott Welch), who smokes and knows things about dark magic. Grant (Derek Johns) is just another heavy with a past. The group’s plan to perform a blood sacrifice does not go their way. Then the girls fight back against their evil hippie-presenting captors.

A meandering plot and some by-the-numbers characterizations wouldn’t be so bad if “The Sacrifice Game” didn’t otherwise feel so threadbare. Tin-eared dialogue, credited to director Jenn Wexler and co-writer Sean Redlitz, often makes the movie seem longer than its 99-minute runtime. And time moves slowest when characters declaim about what’s really motivating them, like when Doug takes way too much time explaining their group’s power dynamic (it’s not great!), or when Jude vamps about the true meaning of “sacrifice.”

This long, slack, uninflected dialogue feels post-Tarantinian in the sense that it creates more work for already inexperienced performers, and also brings to mind every other movie that already went there. It’s hard to care when a major character psychologically breaks down Grant, who previously served in the Vietnam War. It’s probably even harder to sell hard tack lines like, “But it isn’t just a job, is it? When you’re out there, in the jungle, far from home, knowing that a Viet Cong soldier might already have you lined up in his sights?” Either way, the resulting dialogue-intensive scenes aren’t convincing.