Rating:

The 14th Sin Would Be to Ignore This Movie

Main Cast: Mark Webber

Director: Daniel Stamm

13 Sins posterYour cell phone rings and the voice on the other end offers you $1000 to kill a fly that’s been buzzing around you. No problem. WHAP! $1000 richer. Then the voice offers you $2500 to eat it.

Hmm…

This is where things get interesting. No one’s around, no one’s going to see you, except whoever is obviously watching you from who knows where. And for $2500?

Now let’s say that you’re having the worst day of your life. You’ve just been fired from your job, only weeks before your wedding to your pregnant girlfriend, then you find out your bitter old father has just been evicted from his assisted living apartment and, without your work insurance, your mentally handicapped brother’s out-patient care will be declined and he’ll have to go back into an institution.

$2500 to eat a fly? With the promise of more money after the completion of 13 challenges, and eating the fly is #2?

Yeah, okay, I’d probably do it.

Only then you discover Challenge #3 is to make a child cry and Challenge #4 is to burn a nativity scene constructed by the students at a school for the blind. Challenge #5 is to scam a homeless man out of his clothes and if that’s not bad enough, Challenge #6 is to have coffee with a stranger. Easy peasy you say? The stranger is a dead man. He cut his wrists in the bathtub but you have until 4:00 to have a cup of coffee sitting in front of him at the local diner down the street.

This is the problem Elliot Brindle finds himself faced with.

13 Sins is an American remake of the 2006 Thai movie 13 Beloved, this time written by David Burke and Daniel Stamm, with Stamm directing.

Mark Webber (Boiler Room) stars as Elliot and he brings a sympathy to the character that almost anyone can relate to. We’ve all been there. The bills are mounting and life just won’t stop kicking you in the nuts long enough to catch a breath let alone figure out a way to get out of the hole you’re in. And with the promise of $6.6 million after completing only 11 more challenges, whatever they may be…yeah, who wouldn’t give that serious consideration?

The problem is, if at any point you decide to quit the game, all the money you’ve made to that point is gone, plus you have to face whatever consequences stem from anything you’ve done in order to complete those challenges so far. If you win, however, the money is yours and any record of any wrongdoing on your part in service of the game is wiped from existence. So then it just becomes a moral issue.

What I liked about 13 Sins is the way it combined the best aspects of two Michael Douglas movie, Falling Down and The Game. There’s a paranoia built into the premise as “the voice” on the other end of the phone seems to be all-seeing and all-knowing, omnipresent and all-powerful, and is promising great things as long as you do as you’re told. How is the voice keeping such a close eye on Elliot, how many of the people he encounters at any given time might be in the employ of whoever is running the game? He can’t tell anyone about it, or he loses all of his money, but it would sure be a whole lot easier explaining why he wrecked the dining hall where he’s holding his rehearsal dinner, while singing a Nazi party anthem, if he could just explain to his fiancee Shelby (Rutina Wesley, “True Blood”) why he’s doing it.

Alas, he cannot.

The point of the game seems to be to take this meek and mild individual and transform him into a strong, assertive person capable of handling anything life throws at him. And it works. The transformation Elliot undergoes as a result of the game is very well-constructed and perfectly acted by Webber.

Stamm’s direction is tight and carefully thought out, keeping the viewer constantly engaged and never leaving a moment of boring static. 13 Sins is one of the most watchable–and probably re-watchable–movies I’ve seen in a while. Then again, I felt the same about Stamm’s last movie, The Last Exorcism. Loved it, have seen it several times.

Seems to me, Stamm is a writer/director worth keeping a closer eye on.

13 Sins is one of those movies worthy of all the clichés: “a taut thriller”, “an adrenaline rush”, or “addictive”. Whatever trope you can think of in relation to some of the most exciting movies you’ve seen trailers for on television, most of those are applicable to 13 Sins as well. The difference here is that 13 Sins actually delivers.

I basically loved almost everything about this movie, from the plot to the script to the acting to the production, it’s all just so damn nearly perfect. I say nearly because I did find a few things to nitpick like the fact Elliot’s behavior over the few days he’s playing the game changes so completely, but not once does Shelby corner him and ask him okay just what the hell is going on.

They don’t see each other for nearly 2 days, but Shelby doesn’t find that strange, or wonder what he’s been up to?

That doesn’t make any sense to me. That being said, I understand how some peripheral things need to take place in order to make certain plots work, and in this case one of those things was the unquestioning loyalty of the hormonal girlfriend whose fiance just lost his job and whose bigoted father is probably going to have to move into your apartment with you. I didn’t buy it, but it helped keep the plot from stalling, so be it.

And in the end, little things like that don’t diminish the enjoyment of the movie, because everything else was so well-done and enjoyable, I looked past it and decided it wasn’t a big enough deal with everything else going on. Great movie, highly recommended.

13 Sins (DVD)


List Price: $9.98 USD
New From: $5.62 USD In Stock
Used from: $2.97 USD In Stock

FacebooktwitterpinterestmailFacebooktwitterpinterestmail