The Sect (Michele Soavi, 1991)

The Sect / La setta (1991)

Directed by: Michele Soavi Produced by: Dario Argento, Mario Cecchi Gori, Vittorio Cecchi Gori, Andrea Tinnirello. Cast: Kelly Curtis, Herbert Lom, Mariangela Giordano, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Tomas Arana, Michel Adatte, Donal O’Brien.

Kelly Curtis in Michele Soavi's The Sect.

In THE SECT, director Michele Soavi (STAGEFRIGHT) borrows elements from ROSEMARY’S BABY to make a weird horror / occult hybrid.

The Story

Members of an ancient, mysterious sect follow a fragile, young schoolteacher destined to bear the child of the Antichrist.

For his third outing as a director, Soavi has assembled an impressive cast. Kelly Curtis and veteran Herbert Lom take the leads with a score of familiar Eurocult actors in supporting roles.

Things that work

Some surreal images such as a white rabbit using a remote control to channel surf, a burning sphere plunging down a deep well or an unfortunate victim having her face ripped off during a bizarre nocturnal ritual stick with you long after THE SECT is over.

Things that don’t work

THE SECT’s screenplay is a mess. While Kelly Curtis does a fine job playing Miriam there’s only so much an actor can do with a poor screenplay. Her character obeys every male that comes her way, be it Herbert Lom’s blabbering geriatric Satanist or a young nondescript medic (Michel Adatte). Terrified and mystified, Miriam passively endures whatever hallucinatory horror THE SECT’s three credited scriptwriters can come up with. It’s only in the fiery and incredibly well-filmed finale that her character finds the strength to fight back.

THE SECT is an odd film. On the one hand, the story is both derivative and confusing. One the other hand, there film is hugely atmospheric with some amazing visuals.

Reviewed in November 2017. Updated in June 2020