13 Sins Movie Review
Written by Becky Roberts
DVD released by Entertainment One
Directed by Daniel Stamm
Written by Daniel Stamm and David Birke
2014, 88 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 30th June 2014
Mark Webber as Eliott Brindle
Devon Graye as Michael Brindle
Ron Perlman as Detective Chilcoat
Tom Bower as Father
Rutina Wesley as Shelby
13 Sins is the American remake of 2006 Thai film, 13 Beloved, and its plot is a fairly familiar one: down-and-out guy Eliot (Mark Weber) is drowning in debt, has a disabled brother (Devon Graye) to support, and has just been fired when he gets an anonymous call telling him he can win millions of dollars if he carries out thirteen tasks as part of a hidden camera game. The first is to swat a fly, the second is to eat it. The thirteenth? That’s thirty-six hours away – a time period that will change Eliot’s life forever.
It’s an interesting concept, with previous films like Would You Rather? and Cheap Thrills exploring a similar psychological stance. 13 Sins doesn’t go down the comical path of the latter, but it’s still bags of fun; deeply twisted and perverse, the tasks have that shock factor and make you squirm and wince from start to finish. A few gruesome scenes are particularly memorable, one of which involving a horde of motorcyclists and a clothes line. Nasty.
Eliot’s situation as he grapples with his moral reasoning is engaging, and some revelations throughout the game help keep you second-guessing through its otherwise predictable direction. It can’t quite shake the shadow of comparable films, but Director Daniel Stamm (The Last Exorcism) executes his story just as well. Eliot is given a justifiable reason to take on the game, and the mystery behind the cryptic caller never seems far from being unravelled. Once the game begins, it’s full steam ahead from one task to the next, Stamm not wasting a second of its 88 minute running time.
Weber’s increasing desperation is bold, convincing and a right-hand to the film’s plaudits. Despite committing a number of crimes and unspeakable acts (including burning a blind child’s nativity sculpture and carrying a dead body to a café) you find yourself empathizing with his helpless predicamentas he passes the point of no return, and rooting for his good fortune. After all, it makes you wonder at which point you yourself would bow out.
Ron Perlman plays local detective Chilcoat, who is soon on Eliot’s case, and headlines the impressive supporting ensemble (Tom Bower as father, Rutina Wesley as wife). He’s not a hugely present character in the film, popping up here and there as the hunt for Eliot and his caller intensifies, but when he is his screen presence is powerful.
Despite the concept quickly becoming exhausted in the genre, Stamm presents a gripping conundrum and keeps you hooked until the final drop of blood.