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  Sator Dark Domain Of Dementia
Year: 2019
Director: Jordan Graham
Stars: Michael Daniel, Rachel Johnson, Aurora Lowe, Gabriel Nicholson, June Peterson, Wendy Taylor
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Adam (Gabriel Nicholson) has decided to stay away from civilisation for a while, maybe a long while, as a family curse appears to be reasserting itself. His grandmother, Nani (June Peterson), is now senile, but has spent her life claiming that an entity she calls Sator has been affecting her, sometimes merely sitting with her when nobody else could see him, at other times making a more active move to influence her and those around her. Now she is in her dotage and though pleasant company, sadly senile, and Adam doesn’t wish to be around her therefore has resorted to staying in a cabin in the nearby forest with just the pet dog for a companion, though his brother Pete (Michael Daniel) is ensuring he is not utterly alone. But what if he wasn't anyway?

There was a book released in the nineteen-nineties called Tell Me If I've Stopped: Voices from the Duplex Planet which compiled highlights of a cult fanzine produced to give a voice to those left in American care homes who were suffering from Alzheimer's disease. This was produced as a work of humour, because many of the things the afflicted said were very off the wall, but there was something quite sweet about it as well, for it was about the only place people at the end of their lives whose faculties were deserting them could be listened to (or read), if not exactly engaged with in a conscious fashion. With that in mind, director Jordan Graham could have made this film which centred on his grandmother Peterson's ramblings a comedy, except there was a real sorrow here.

The old lady, who passed away shortly after the film was completed, was not acting in her scenes, and had spent her existence suffering from delusions: for her Sator was a real person, and genuinely interacted with her. She did not come across as labouring under a terrible burden by this stage, and was at peace with her illness even as her understanding had deserted her, making this film a tribute from Graham to his grandmother, albeit one which was so strange that you could not imagine her appreciating if she had been compos mentis. It had taken seven years to create and release, and if you were told it was practically a one-man show, you would imagine he had had some assistance on the technical side, but nope, according to Graham he had done it all himself aside from actually acting in it: direction, writing, cinematography, music - he also built the cabin the brothers stay in.

He was certainly dedicated, but did this pay off? To a point, it did, as its painfully low budget had been the mother of invention, concocting a truly disquieting atmosphere that sustained it through passages which were apparently designed to be puzzling. In fact, you could watch Sator from start to finish and be none the wiser at the end what it was supposed to be about than you were at the beginning; as sustaining a mystery was its main objective, and as its impetus had been a mentality damaged by mental illness, it would have been too much to expect this to come together with total reason intact. Yet because you could not quite fathom precisely what was happening or why, it grew in the telling to achieve its own special timbre of near-documentary record of Peterson's viewpoint through her troubled mind, and a world where that had been justified. In its way it was a love letter to an elderly relative who was slipping away from lucidity, and may not have ever been that close to it in conventional style, but had this tribute to her journey through the world which she might have appreciated if she had perceived its good intentions. Nasty things happened, make no mistake, it was a weird tribute, but heartfelt, you could see that.

[Sator will be available on Digital Download from 15th February & DVD from 22nd February and can be pre-ordered on iTunes - click here.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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