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With great characters and a perfect ending, “The Sacrifice Game” is a Shudder original worth watching even after the holiday season.

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Before The Sacrifice Game (2023) started at the Telluride Horror Show, director Jenn Wexler addressed the audience and said it was “Last House on the Left meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

I immediately knew I had walked into the right theater because that description had me giddy. I now know what she meant, and I think that description is perfectly fitting.

The Sacrifice Game follows characters at an all-girls boarding school in the ‘70s. It’s time for Christmas break, and two girls can’t go home for the holidays. Samantha (Madison Baines) and Clara (Georgia Acken) typically keep to themselves, but they don’t have much choice for companionship. They soon reluctantly realize they are becoming friends.

Their teacher, Rose (Chloë Levine), is doing everything she can to make the best of a disappointing situation, teaching the girls how to make pies and hosting a fancy Christmas dinner.

Their dinner is disrupted by a Manson-esque group of killers who plan to use the school to summon a demon who will grant their wishes.

Characters fight for survival while wondering if the magic is real. What’s actually going on?

A coming-of-age story with a supernatural twist, The Sacrifice Game will likely hook fans of Stephen King.

Samantha and Clara are outcasts when school is in session and are apparently cast out by their families over break. Especially pre-internet, there weren’t many options for kids to make friends other than those close by. They had to make do with the other kids in proximity.

That’s the case for Samantha and Clara, and they figure it’s better to become fast friends than be alone all through the break in their big, empty school. But their friendship leads to outcomes neither of them could have expected.

The cult of killers is both humorous and chilling.

The Sacrifice Game

They vacillate between cold, calculated actions and taking pleasure in their killing and torture.

They are not a cohesive group — rather, they have come together out of necessity and greed for their wants. Breaking into homes, killing innocent people, and painting the walls with blood bring to mind the followers of Charles Manson. However, these killers are more organized and on fewer drugs, which makes the possibilities terrifying.

Written and directed by Jenn Wexler (The Ranger) and co-written by Sean Redlitz, The Sacrifice Game is a Christmassy (but don’t let that stop you from watching it now) home invasion horror story with supernatural twists and characters you can love.

The film has a definitive ending in which all questions are answered, and it made me want to stand up and cheer.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 3.5
I screened this film at the Telluride Horror Show, but you can watch it now on Shudder.

Written by: Ariel Powers-Schaub

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