• Sator (Umbrella Entertainment) DVD Review

    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: February 17th, 2021.
    Director: Jordan Graham
    Cast: Gabe Nicholson, Michael Daniel, Rachel Johnson, June Peterson
    Year: 2019
    Purchase From Amazon

    Sator – Movie Review:

    Written, directed, produced, edited, scored and shot by filmmaker Jordan Graham, 2019’s Sator opens with an eerie black and white prologue where an old woman writes –automatic writing style - in a remote cabin lit only candles. The camera leaves the room and there’s a younger woman in the other room holding what looks to be a knife. The old woman, Nani (June Peterson, Graham’s grandmother), tends to hear voices, and claims that it’s Sator, a dark spirit that lives in the woods that surround the area.

    From here we meet Pete (Michael Daniel), Nani’s grandson. Pete is a hermit of sorts, living alone out in a small cabin in the middle of the woods. He doesn’t socialize much and seems more interested in watching deer through the cameras he’s set up than anything else. He is, for all intents and purposes, off the grid. He gets a surprise visit from his brother, Adam (Gabe Nicholson), who has shown up in hopes of rebuilding the relationship that they had when they were younger. There’s some definite trauma in their collective background, their mother having gone missing some years ago.

    Things get eerie and strange from there…

    Sator gets a lot of things right. It’s an absolutely gorgeous looking film and Graham’s talents as a cinematographer are exceptional. He does a fantastic job of capturing the eeriness and desolation of the deep woods as well as the beauty inherent in that location, the trees sometimes feeling so dense and impenetrable that you start to wonder if there’s even a way out for our characters. The movie’s minimalist score is also very effective, accentuating the feeling of dread that builds rather well as the storyline progresses. On a technical level, for a film made on a modest budget, this is a very impressive effort.

    As to the story itself, it’s vague – seemingly intentionally so. There isn’t a lot of dialogue here and the movie is almost completely devoid of exposition. A whole lot of what happens throughout the movie is left up to the viewer to figure out, and while that’s something that can absolutely make for a better picture, this time around it’s maybe a little too loose in terms of its storytelling and it suffers from a few pacing issues for this reason.

    That said, the good does outweigh the bad. Those who can appreciate slow moving folk horror and appreciate arthouse style should enjoy this movie a fair bit. It isn’t perfect, but it is very good and it’s ll be interesting to see what Jordan Graham comes up with next.

    Sator – DVD Review:

    Sator arrives on Region 4 encoded DVD from Umbrella Entertainment in anamorphic 2.35.1 widescreen transfer. This was shot digitally, so grain and print damage are non-issues here. Detail looks pretty strong when it is supposed to but this movie was made in a very visually dark environment so expect the shadows to gobble things up on a regular basis, especially during the black and white scenes which appear to be lit entirely by candles. Some minor compression artifacts are noticeable here and there but otherwise, but colors are handled well even if there is some minor crush in a few spots.

    The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix is pretty strong, with good channel separation throughout the movie, though the mix is, by design, pretty front heavy. There are no issues with any hiss or distortion and the track is balanced properly. Subtitle options or alternate language options are not provided.

    There are no extra features here, not even a menu screen.

    Sator - The Final Word:

    If you don’t mind a slow burn, Sator is worth checking out. It loses steam towards the end but it benefits from some really nice atmosphere and gorgeous cinematography. Performances are decent and if the first half of the movie is better than the second, there’s enough to appreciate here to make it worthwhile for fans of indie/arthouse horror. Umbrella’s DVD release is barebones but it offers a nice standard definition presentation of the feature.