The Sect (AKA The Devil’s Daughter) was the last collaboration between Michele Soavi and Dario Argento before they went their separate ways. Aside from that, there’s not a lot of information that exists about this film, aside from the date it released and who worked on the movie. The Sect wasn’t popular upon it’s original release, I can’t find any critical reviews of the film from the time, and it’s one of the few Italian horror films that didn’t get a cult following. Though, upon watching the film, I can understand why that may be.
So far, The Sect is the weakest film I’ve seen from Michele Soavi. The story is an esoteric, incoherent mess. From what I can decipher, The Sect has an over-arching plot about a Satanic cult who target a seemingly normal teacher, but aside from that, The Sect makes very little sense. The plot feels like a random assortment of events that have no relative meaning instead of being an actual plot. The film introduces a lot of bizarre elements, never explains what they are or what they mean, then it seems like the movie forgets they even existed, so in the end I’m left wondering: what was the point? What was the point of the blue things in the water? What was the point of the old man’s box? What was the point of having a character come back to life, only to die again straight afterward? What was the point of having the rabbit watch TV? The Sect is a movie that resembles a string of consciousness rather than an actual story.
It’s only at the 91 minute mark of this 111 minute movie does the plot begin to resemble something coherent with character, motivation and explanation, but by that point, it’s far too little, far too late. I was completely lost and completely uninterested by the time the movie started making sense. Perhaps, if the movie spent more time on the symbolic imagery, if it focused more on the surreal elements, and if the plot just concentrated on one character’s story instead of trying to concentrate on everything strange and cult-y that have little to no relevance on the film’s protagonist, then The Sect could have been a much better movie. As it is, The Sect is too ambitious, too unfocused, and far too pretentious for its own good.
The production aspects don’t help the film either. Aside from some interesting sets, good set-pieces, and decent special effects all few and far between, the production is very bland. Bland lighting, bland cinematography, and bland acting are front in center of a film that could have benefited from being stylish and visually artistic in order to give the film its own visual flair. The Sect is a film in which there’s no style, no identity. There’s no influx of colour, no experimental camera angles, nothing to make the film stand out from any other film released in 1991 (although, to be fair, 1991 wasn’t a good year for the horror genre). In the end, The Sect is just a very generic looking film, a disappointing move from the men who once created the stylishly beautiful Phenomena and Demons.
That’s really all I can say about The Sect. After experiencing the film for myself I can understand why this film didn’t get a cult following, it’s a bad movie. I believe that both Dario Argento and Michele Soavi can be very talented film-makers, but something clearly went wrong with the making of this film. In the end, I’m kind of happy to see that Dario Argento and Michele Soavi parted ways after The Sect, because Dario Argento continued on his career decline, and Michele Soavi made Dellamorte Dellamore. As for The Sect, I don’t recommend watching it. Stage Fright and The Church were far better movies than The Sect. Hell, Mother Of Tears, even for how flawed that film was and how it affected me, I can honestly say that I still had a better time watching that than watching The Sect. The Sect is a forgettable, bland piece of cinema that stains the careers of both Dario Argento and Michele Soavi.