Us Sinners Movie Review
Written by ZigZag
Written and directed by George Snow
2007, 84 minutes, Not rated
Brandon Schraml as Tim Connelly
Leslie E. Hughes as Mother
Brenda Cooney as Louise
Glenys Javier as Patty
Caroline Mosely as Melissa
Jason Shoulders as Andrew
Jason Reed as Bobby
Tim (Brandon Schraml) leads a depressing life. During the day he manages a custodial staff that does not respect him, continually poking fun at him both to his face and behind his back. He lives at home with his overbearing mother (Leslie E. Hughes), a woman who berates and humiliates him at every turn. Things seem to change for the better when a new employee (Brenda Cooney) arrives. She does not share Tim's affection, but rather is attracted to fellow co-worker Andrew (Jason Shoulders). Tim loses his slow wits and goes on a killing rampage.
The cover art promises an ending "so disturbing it will leave you breathless." As is usually the case with over-hyped no-budget features, disappointment is the strongest feeling the audience will leave Us Sinners with, due to a plot so generic it leaves the film instantly forgettable. Attempts to be shocking and offensive are not without promise, but the sophomoric presentation denies any power to the sequences, reducing them to gore for gore's sake.
Amateur setups and shoddy audio plague an already tepid production and Snow's lack of coverage leaves many scenes either confusing or simply annoying. Insert shots and cutaways are the first casualty, closely followed by the absence of decent establishing shots that allow perspective to the characters and action. For example, Tim encourages Bobby (Jason Reed) to stand up for himself when picked on by fellow neighborhood kids. Despite numerous encounters, the other kids never appear on camera, resulting in off screen voices throwing trash at little Bobby. Or when a character is presented with a gift-wrapped box, we only see her happy reaction without being shown the contents. Some things are better left to the audience's imagination, but basic storytelling is not one of those things.
The film is also padded with several endless driving sequences that all play out to the same song. Additional padding comes from repeated encounters with people at work teasing Tim — one overlong improv sequence is followed by another.
Tim's relationship with his mother is nothing new: religious zealot disapproves and punishes child until child lashes out in a violent manner. The actors appear to be less than ten years apart in age, but Leslie Hughes helpfully has some grey highlights and greasepaint wrinkles to cue the audience that she is "old."
Performances are generally solid, given the limitations of both script and direction. Brandon Schraml turns in an eager-to-please performance as the anti-hero lead Tim, but his split personality behavior is unsatisfying. Tim is a pathetic goon by day and a totally in control, though viciously psychotic, serial killer by night. He cannot stand up to people at work, yet he can control his victims with concise direction. Perhaps if his crimes were a bit less organized or if he struggled to commit the acts, the character would seem more sincere.
The direction is poor and Jocelyn Marquis' cinematography is muddied, possibly due to a poor transfer, as this was a screener copy (and the audio seemed incomplete as well.) The film's two best shots are out of focus, and key sequences are poorly edited to the point of frustration, thus denying the satisfaction of actually getting a payoff to some of the monotony.
Director George Snow manages to succeed at consistently letting down the audience. There are several missed opportunities that could have been creative and entertaining, two things this film is not. Despite some "shocking" elements of overt flatulence, vaginal insertion of a Virgin Mary statue, castration by firecracker, strangulation while performing oral sex, and gratuitous Bible thumping, Us Sinners is a complete waste of time.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this is a screener
Low-budget crapfests can be guilty of several things, and I will still go out of my way to find and watch them. Us Sinners is guilty of breaking the cardinal rule: Don't Bore Me.