Writer/director David Creed’s Sacrilege (U.K., 2020) treads familiar ground in its mash-up of folk horror and slasher movie elements but ultimately delivers an entertaining slice of fear-fare cinema. Some familiar faces from U.K. independent horror and science fiction films raise the fun quotient, as well.

Kayla (Tamaryn Payne of Stalled [2013]) learns that her physically abusive ex-boyfriend has just been released from prison, which stresses her out to the point of mistaking a fellow bar patron for him. She and her friend Stacey (Naomi Willow of Bonded by Blood 2 [2017]), Kayla’s ex-girlfriend Tricia (Emily Wyatt of Sensation [2021]), and mutual friend Blake (Sian Abrahams of Aylesbury Dead [2015]) decide to head out to the countryside for a spontaneous vacation. Silent groundsman (Rory Wilton of An English Haunting [2020]) gives them a less than welcoming entry to the rented property where they will stay, complete with murky pool that none of the ladies seem to have a problem swimming in. Local lad Vinnie (Jon Glasgow) leads them to a promised evening of alcohol, marijuana, and partying at a pagan cult’s festival for goddess Mabon.

Naturally, this means bad news for the unsuspecting young ladies, who participate in the ritual by writing down their darkest fears. At first, they think they are hallucinating because of the pot from the previous evening, but soon enough they are singled out to die one by one. This leads to the tried and true tropes of seeing who might survive and in what order people will perish.

Creed takes a mainstream approach to folk horror, with plenty of gore and special effects on display — a cold open using real fire in a stunt rather than CGI flames is especially impressive — along with a considerable amount of shots with the leads in differing states of discreet undress. The members of the main quartet are thankfully not as annoying as many young twenties partiers in horror films, and Creed tries to give them at least some dramatic back stories. The four leads all give solid performances, and such supporting players as Ian Champion as cult leader Father Saxon and Emma Spurgin Hussey (of A Werewolf in England and The Curse of Hobbes House [both 2020]) as wavering cult member Mrs. March turn in nice work, as well.

Creed acquits himself well at the helm here, showing a keen eye for great-looking shots and a great deal of skill at building tension. His dialogue fits the proceedings well, though the story itself is a bit thin because of checking off a good number of trope boxes. Still, Sacrilege offers plenty of eeriness and looks great in delivering its shudders, making it well worth a watch.

Bad Blood films will release Sacrilege on digital download from 27th September, 2021.