You’d think Pretty Little Liars meets Se7en would have a little more skin on its bones than what The Sinners cooks up, but alas this after school special is just as exciting as watching paint dry.
Seven students at a Catholic high school form a secret clique where each of them embody one of the deadly seven sins. Led by the daughter of a local pastor, their scandalous behaviour starts to bother the small town’s religious community. Not soon after six of them turn against the most devoted believer in the group, things go awry and it seems a mysterious killer wants to teach our group of wannabe misfits a lesson. Everyone has their reasons to commit to their very own sin, but not everyone has been as honest about their true intentions.
Teenage girls dressed like Britney Spears in her iconic “Baby One More Time” music video can’t help themselves to push back at what’s believed to be “right and pure”, so when narrator Aubrey (Brenna Llewellyn) reveals at the start of the film that this is the story of how she ended up at the bottom of the lake, you think you’re in for a good old 90s throwback ride a la The Craft. Unfortunately, the movie is a mishmash of ideas and plot holes. It’s so incoherently plotted that any tension it wants to build vanishes even before it gets a chance to establish itself.
There’s constant sexual tension between characters, and a lesbian love story between Tori (Brenna Coates) and good-girl-gone-bad Grace (Kaitlyn Bernard), aka Wrath and Lust, is apparently a thing but never gets explored enough, making it impossible to even care about these two whatsoever. The family dynamic at Grace’s home is explosive to say the least, with two daughters who couldn’t care less about father’s constant preaching, while mother and brother follow in his footsteps. Curse words and the use of the J-word (Jesus) in vain are thrown all around to seem edgy, but it just becomes incredibly off putting and downright ridiculous at a certain point.
It’s mostly the weirdly occult/satanist symbols that are scattered throughout the movie without any purpose. It seems as if that’s done to make this teen-thriller look more like a horror film, but believe me, a horror it ain’t. As a matter of fact, ultimately the most unforgivable sin was shackling this very talented young cast with a screenplay that doesn’t give them the chance to really dig their claws into something more challenging. The cast does the best they can with the material. Especially Brenna Llewellyn showcases a wide range of emotions and bravura. Her performance is first-class.
The Sinners‘ biggest problem is that it can’t decide whether it wants to be a slasher/revenge horror or a coming of age story gone wrong, all while mistreating these young freethinking girls, by making their actions look completely ridiculous. Forgive me Father, but this ain’t it.
Review – ‘The Sinners’
Reviewed online (screener provided by Signature Entertainment), February 22, 2021. Rating: Cert. 15. Running time: 96 min.
PRODUCTION: (UK) A Signature Entertainment release of a Globetrotter Pictures, Neon Cinema Films production. Producers: Stirling Bancroft, Hanna Griffiths, Alan MacFarlane, Siena Oberman, Rylan Oleksyn, Courtney Paige, Steve Richmond, Suzann Toni. Executive producers: Heliya Alam, Mike Bundlie, Aftab S. Chauhan, Nicholas Adam Clark, Gil Demeter, Kyler Steven Fisher, Justin Hoertling, Aleks Paunovic, Aaron Sacks, Alex Safdie, Courtenay Semel.
CREW: Director: Courtney Paige. Screenplay: Erin Hazlehurst, Courtney Paige, Madison Smith. Cinematography: Stirling Bancroft. Editing: Alex Safdie. Music: Holly Amber Church.
CAST: Kaitlyn Bernard, Brenna Llewellyn, Brenna Coates, Keilani Elizabeth Rose, Jasmine Randhawa, Carly Fawcett, Natalie Malaika, Aleks Paunovic, Lochlyn Munro, Dylan Playfair.