Jordan Graham took about five years to put together Sator and it was worth the wait. An unsettling, sad and personal story, Graham has created a film that won’t be for everyone but that no one can take away how well it has been put together.
Adam (Nicholson) spends his days in the wilderness, hunting and fending for himself (and his dog). Visited sporadically by his brother Pete (Daniel) and they occasionally visit their Grandmother Nani (Petersen). Nani has dementia but before that took hold she claimed that she was lead to do certain things by ‘sator’ – someone or something that has taken over her brain…
The scenery is gorgeous, whether it’s green forest or a snowed out landscape the film is shot beautifully, regardless of the various cameras that are used throughout the film. For a micro budget feature it punches well above its weight in the regard.
The quiet dread in Sator, hangs like a pall over the entire family. Adam spends his time listening to Nani’s recorded ramblings about ‘sator’ and hears the distant rumblings and the whispers himself. The performances in Sator are hard to connect with at first but as the film continues to open up on these characters on you understand where they are all coming from and the damage that they carry with them.
As a slow burn horror film, a complaint of similar films is that they don’t pay off on the atmosphere created, well Sator pays off big time in the climax of the film, bringing forth all the dread it had manufactured and then unfurling some unflinching violence that not only is affecting but also makes perfect sense given what was laid out previously.
The core of Sator is mental illness and how it effects individuals and in turn their family, the film treats it almost like its a contagious disease that slowly infects everyone and everyone that ‘sator’ comes in contact with. Graham has woven a tight narrative into a personal story and laced it with dread and horror. Quite an achievement that puts Graham squarely in the frame as one of the new horror directors to keep an eye on.
Played as part of The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival
Ryan Morrissey-Smith | Twitter: @TigersMS78