The director of Special Dead [2006] Thomas L. Phillips who also worked on the award-winning horror film Truth or Dare [2013] with director Jessica Cameron had some problems with his film, Sanctuary: Quite a Conundrum, which occurred in the earliest portion of the filmmaking process – the casting call. Thomas listed his film as a crossover genre production, meaning he used more than three genres, horror, comedy, and thriller and the result many professional acting coaches and talent agencies considered the project absurd and twisted. The summary of the storyline made many believe it was a nefarious project, with ill-conceived mentions and disrespectful, it eerily connects to another film that ran into a similar situation, Henry: The Portrait of a Serial Killer [1986], the SAG Union, just pretended that the casting call and production crew and cast never existed, and that film became a cult classic. The actors that auditioned came from across from the nation and the entire film completed in 12 days, mainly because of the added cost of housing the actors on a $200,000 budget and achieved distribution through Midnight Releasing.

This film brings everything into the mix, starting with a thriller, which gives thrills and chills, with crafty dialog and smooth pacing, providing a great crazy wild time that spans, genres of horror, suspense, and dark comedy. The movie sets in primarily one location, a common tactic in any low budget production, occupied by two sisters Mimi (Sasha Ramos) who’s a bit of a party girl and Kylene (Emily Rogers (The Devil Incarnate p2013]), more introverted a virginal confused sexually, taking things in slow steady manner. They have a raucous party without parents around and things go bit haywire, with their friends Tabitha who enjoys excessive and embarrassing other especially Kylene and her boyfriend Harris. The issue of the night resides with Mimi and her extracurricular seven calls him a loser. Those words bring dire situations, Marc (John Lucas) returns that night, naked, with a gun and shoots himself in front of everyone, and that begins the spilling and wackiness, of a twisted mindless entertaining night of completely back luck. The film reminds me of Mon Ami, a Canada horror film and how one incident causes a series of out control situations. Thomas’ plot points remain buried only to spring up like a trap, think of a SAW movie, with logic always just a little out of reach, and a mixture of crazy rabid-like personalities bouncing off each other quickly in a maddening pace, that slowly resembles a massacre. Rounding out the cast Marc’s crazy and thoroughly unstable wife Lola (Julianna Pitt) and then the Jesus Camp runaway and Harris’ mother, Thelma (Catherine Trail (Infliction [2014])) who’s a bit crazy about the Lord and everyone worshipping him, and lastly Sean (Chris Greene (The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It [2021]), has for some nasty enjoying fun, then everyone wants this debauchery party.

Erin Cline’s (Tabitha) quirkiness really drives many of the scenes, with Emily Rogers works a steady performance when the scenes turn messy and nicely delivers her lines and knowing her marks easily. Though clever and over-the-top belongs to Sasha Ramos and the interactions with everyone making each one count and striving for more insanity on set. Anthony Rutowicz (Harris) does a funny routine and escapes the words; he had previous on the Special Dead [2006] and has a natural comedic talent. A downside in the production the endless music sequences muddling the script, as if the songs used in the production had the stipulation that they need to play the entire track and aspect wore a bit thin as the film had elements of wonderfully blended the sleaze cinema with the horror genre.

Sanctuary keeps the viewer on their toes or least on the edge of your seat, with the common themes of parties, sexual relations and the brutal results that sometimes arise cannot put you into the right frame of mind. This production requires one to become just as crazy as the cast to comprehend all of the clever and stunning effects and dive into the human nature and exposes the darkness to the light and a bit of tequila could help, for Thomas created a cult classic film!



  • Sex, drums, tequila, social networking, A pirate, morning after pills, Jesus and A gun…It’s one hot mess
  • It’s one hot mess!

IMDb Rating: 5.2/10

Baron’s Rating: 5.0/10