Sator (2021)

As a dark being attempts to claim them, a family tries to reconnect and live their lives deep in the forest.

Written and directed by Jordan Graham, this dark, dark film (as in there isn’t much light here, images are dark and well, so is the subject of course) was a beloved film for some festival attendees in the last year. However, for this reviewer, it falls incredibly flat. Flat as in the story doesn’t connect, the scares or tension don’t work, and the whole thing ends up feeling like it’s about 3 hours too long when it’s just 85 minutes long. The story is fairly simple it seems, with a mix of the family living currently and video footage of the past. This past footage is more interesting, but unfortunately doesn’t lead to much in the long run. Of course, this is not trying to harp on the film, but as it didn’t work and came off as a bit of a waste of time and mental energy to watch, it’s a frustrating film to review. There is good in there somewhere, but the story comes off lacking and the style in which it’s told is something that is done before and in a much better manner.

The good points on the film are the performances and some of the visuals. There is something in there in the former that shows great talent by the cast, but when the viewer doesn’t care about the story, it becomes harder and harder as the runtime goes to keep caring about the characters and thus the performances that create them. The visuals on the other hand help at times and hinder at others. This film is shot very, very dark there are scene with so little light, it leads to not seeing much and wanting to shine a flashlight in there just to see the great framing and set decor that went into making this film. There is something in there, but for lack of being able to see it right too many times, it leads to adding on top of the story to make this a film that loses attention.

Sator is a film that has good bones, but doesn’t seem to use them or simply hides them too early on. This means that this viewer ended up bored and fighting to keep attention on the film to the end something that is frustrating when watching as many film as some of us do in a single week. Sator should have been more interesting and it feels like a missed opportunity.