13 Sins
dir Daniel Stamm
scr David Birke, Daniel Stamm
prd Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Steven Squillante, Kiki Miyake
with Mark Webber, Rutina Wesley, Ron Perlman, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Devon Graye, Tom Bower, Richard Burgi, Clyde Jones, Deneen Tyler, Lance E Nichols, Donny Boaz, Jenn Foreman
release US 18.Apr.14
14/US Dimension 1h28
13 Sins
Supersize me: Wesley and Webber

webber perlman vince
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
13 Sins Enjoyably grisly, this violent horror odyssey has some clever touches even if the script feels rather underdeveloped. The set-up is so simple that it's barely there, but credit must go to the cast and crew that they help us identify with the characters even when we know better.

In New Orleans, nice guy Elliot (Webber) is sacked while he has a pregnant fiancee Shelby (Wesley), retirement-aged dad (Bower) and mentally disabled brother Michael (Graye) to support. Then Elliot discovers he's in a shadowy game show, apparently organised by the devil himself, that can solve all his problems. But the series of 13 challenges turns increasingly deranged. Eating a fly and making a child cry are bad enough; setting a church fire and moving a dead body are other things entirely. And as things get seriously grisly, Elliot realises he's not the only contestant.

The script is overstated, setting everything up in blatantly obvious ways. But this adds to the intrigue as Elliot falls deeper into the rabbit hole. Although it would be a lot more engaging if he wasn't such an idiot. Clearly he has never seen a movie or read the Faust legend, and he doesn't have a big enough imagination to see where this is heading. While the people around him aren't observant enough to notice that he's in trouble.

Fortunately, the actors make the characters surprisingly believable even in the most implausible scenes. Webber just about remains likeable in the central role, while Perlman adds a deadpan presence as a detective following Elliot's hapless crime spree, and Vince plays yet another camper-dwelling nutcase, albeit one who might have an idea what's going on here. Orchestrating everything is the jaunty voice of the game show host with his circus-theme ringtone.

Nothing about this premise hangs together, but Stamm's direction is so kinetic that Elliot's nasty journey is rather enjoyable: a desperate young man just trying to do what it takes to survive. And the script has some clever historical touches as well that add a wry sense of black humour to the gruesome goings on, mixing raw intensity into the personal drama. Even so, the whole "someone is controlling life on earth" conspiracy angle is more than a little tired.

cert 15 themes, grisly violence, language 14.Apr.14

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... 13 Sins Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall