• Name: Sator
• Year: 2019
• Country: USA
• Director: Jordan Graham
• Main cast: Michael Daniel, Rachel Johnson, Aurora Lowe
• Runtime: 85 minutes
• Production company: Mistik Jade Films
Sator (2019) is indeed a very personal movie. Perhaps it is so personal that only its writer, director, producer, and editor Jordan Graham knows what is the real story behind the collection of images and sound he has put together. I would even put all my money on that the director attempted to make his minimalistic take on The Witch (2015) holding hands with Hereditary (2018), but sadly not everybody has the immense talent (and financial support) of Robert Eggers and Ari Aster.
But it is very unfair to compare Sator (2019) with the two former masterpieces, they compete in very different leagues. Taken as it is, the movie is a very personal trip into the realms of fantasy, in a world personalized by a deep and dark forest. Almost like a dream that one wakes up from and is not able to collect with a meaning all the images and concepts that were seen and felt in your own mind. Very little dialog and cast for a very mysterious film.
When the movie starts, it is very evident that the director Jordan Graham has put a lot of effort into the images and sounds for the little universe that forms Sator (2019). After all, he has also been cinematographer and composer of the soundtrack. Those cold landscapes beautifully photographed, the eerie ambiental score with influence strong of industrial and tribal sounds; Graham has taken a lot of work on making a real candy for our eyes and our ears. But, perhaps he forgot to put them all together with a solid story.
Most of the cast had already participated in the director’s previous work, supernatural horror Specter (2012), and the rest were debutants in a feature film. Yet, acting is as simple as effective and fits very well with the calm and vagrant of the whole film. The voices and faces of the actors melt with the magical and mysterious images surrounded by the warmth of the fire, or the coldness of the dark forest.
To sum up, Sator (2019) is a very beautiful piece to see and hear, but tricky to catch the meaning. Very atmospheric and mystical, but lacking sense. Or, at least, I didn’t have the wit to find it. It opens the door to a realm of fantasies, a forest full of strange creatures and whispering voices, but with not enough pieces to complete the puzzle. But if you are into the occult, mystical mysteries, and strange creatures from deep in the woods, give it a try. After all, it won Best Director in Fantaspoa International Fantastic Film Festival last year, that’s something!
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