18th Feb2021

‘The Sinners’ VOD Review

by Chris Thomas

Stars: Kaitlyn Bernard, Brenna Llewellyn, Brenna Coates, Keilani Elizabeth Rose, Jasmine Randhawa, Carly Fawcett, Natalie Malaika, Aleks Paunovic, Lochlyn Munro, Dylan Playfair, Tahmoh Penikett, Loretta Walsh, Elysia Rotaru, Michael Eklund | Written by Courtney Paige, Erin Hazlehurst, Madison Smith | Directed by Courtney Paige

What do attractive teens get up to in 2020? They vape and go on that TikTok, right? Wrong! They form cults. Honestly, kids today. Back when I was young, I used to drink alcohol until I lost control of my body and my Mum had to come and rescue me. As God intended.

The Sinners kicks off strong as we are introduced to our narrators’ body in a lake, with a rose in her mouth, and then skip back to a normal, morning some time before in which Christianity is rammed down her throat as a matter of course.

The protagonist, and her group of friends have stumbled into being called “the Sins” in their religious, small town. At first this is a label that others stick on them for their “immoral” actions but soon they grow to embrace it and wear it as a badge of honour. This then escalates, and each of the group takes a moniker from the seven deadly sins (e.g. sloth, envy, wrath, pride, twerking etc.). Soon after being introduced to our religious town we are introduced to the hypocrisy of the adults…

At its heart The Sinners is a story about youth struggling to be themselves, against the crushing weight of societal expectation. However, this is a horror film, and while the film was humming along nicely as a bit of social drama, we soon slam into some good old-fashioned devil-worshipping. I rather prefer the idea of something like The Devils or the Witchfinder General where this idea of “lawful good” is so “lawful” that it looks an awful lot like evil (i.e. those that are purporting to be “good” are really committing evil acts under the cover of “good”). But here we have old fashioned silliness. It is not terribly done, a bit like From Dusk to Dawn I was just enjoying one film, and suddenly it becomes something else – thought this is more akin to something like I Know What You Did Last Summer.

The quality of the direction, acting, sound design is all very competent. There is a large cast, and some of the actors are a little stronger than others but the standard is good. Filmmaker Courtney Paige had a strong vision for the kind of social story she wanted to tell, and the script is very professionally written. It gives one the suspicion that the general idea of being raised in a stifling religious community is close to her heart. I have seen enough low budget films to know that expecting a scene to move the plot of the film forward is not something you can take as given, but here the script not only delivers what it needs to, structurally but it is all rather natural and enjoyable.

The Sinners is a decent film, that I can recommend with the following caveat. To use the old football cliché, this is a “film of two halves” both work fine independently, but I am still not convinced they work together as a single, coherent piece of work. If someone served me a shepherd’s pie, I would be happy. If someone gave me a Terry’s chocolate orange, I would be happy. But if someone gave me both on the same plate, I would just be rather confused. Having said all that, if you compare this to another film I reviewed, with similar aims, #captured it is night and day. The Sinners is much, much better than a lot of its peers. I particularly enjoyed the “banter” (“bullying”) the two big city detectives do on the local police force. Top quality berating and belittling.

I am interested to see what Courtney Paige does next; she certainly has talent.

*** 3/5

Signature Entertainment presents The Sinners on Digital on 22nd February


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