Review: Sator


Title: Sator
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Jordan Graham
Starring: Michael Daniel, Rachel Jordan, Aurora Lowe
Runtime: 1 hrs 25 mins

What It Is: Different footages are shown out of chronological order; scattered, perhaps in the way someone would remember them. An old, senile woman talks about her life as a grandmother, a psychic, and her relationship with a mysterious entity who seems to be targeting her named ‘Sator.’ Her daughter becomes afflicted with the obsession with Sator as well. Struggling with their complex family dynamic, the adult children are left to reel and figure out what Sator means to their family. Pete (Daniel) is one of those children, a quiet man on an enigmatic journey in listening to tapes of his grandmother talking about Sator, has he has growing suspicions Sator will choose him as its next disciple.

What We Think: This film really blew my expectations. It’s awfully gorgeous to look at with clever composition and unique visuals. You really feel like it’s from one of the characters’ perspectives, which also keeps up a grand sense of mystery behind what happened and why. This movie, like its protagonist, is quiet and leaves a lot to the imagination. The editing is noticeably fantastic, as well as smaller things such as the beginning and ending credits, which many indie films tend to not play with, or they end up looking cheesy or bland anyway. There’s incredible detail and creativity in all corners of its construction, making things feel even more real despite the surreality as well. The cast is lovely: the acting plays so close to the reality that a part of me wondered if certain aspects of the performances weren’t fiction at all (namely in grandma’s monologues). The pacing is strangely intentional in how it encourages uneasiness in the viewer. Sometimes things happen at a breakneck speed or not at all, forcing you to accept its unpredictable nature.

You see the poster, and you think “paranormal monster movie.” After having completed this beaut, I stand to differ. This movie takes notes from the classics, from Eggers to Blair Witch. I can see this entry growing a cult status just as they did. The tone is haunting and, of course, very occult while maintaining ambiguity. It’s beautifully lit and color graded to stylish perfection, much like It Comes At Night, only miles and miles better. The playfulness and experimentation with the differing qualities of film media and range of visual composition in such beautiful, vast settings lead to my belief that this film received more care in its artistic treatment than most others. The mise en scene is present, and I am living for it.

Our Grade: A-, Stylish, enigmatic, and cryptic. Sator stands tall in its abilities to not only creep but allure and invite you into its world and leaving you wanting more. Whether its in the production design, costume design, plot devices, performances, or elsewhere, every detail indicates a disruption in humanity. It isn’t a horror that spoonfeeds scares, plot, or meaning, but is rather a profound experience. A quiet film that leaves a lot to be said (in a good way), it overall was something beautiful, twisted, rewarding, and enjoyable. I’ll be anticipating the filmmakers’ next creation, that’s for sure.

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