Saturday, 14 February 2015

Horrors of 2014: 13 Sins (2014)

13 Sins (2014)
Director: Daniel Stamm
Starring:  Mark Webber, Devon Graye, and Tom Bower
Running Time: 93 min

  I'm going into this movie blind, all I know is that it is directed by Daniel Stamm, who directed "The Last Exorcist" which I thought was a decent enough film.  The poster looks interesting, very Illuminati-esque and menacing, so how bad can it be?

  Elliot Brindle is a nice guy but that is his biggest fault.  He is too nice and lets people push him around and as a sales person, this is a terrible quality to have, according to his company.  After refusing to upsell to an elderly customer, Elliot is fired from his job, which was the only peg left holding everything together.  He has a handicapped brother, Michael who needs his insurance to stay in the nicer care facility, than the state's mental institution.  He also has a racist father, who he has to take care of, even though he disapproves of Elliot marrying a black woman.  As well as his fiance, Shelby who he is marrying and paying for the wedding, the reception and they also have a baby on the way.  So when Elliot loses his job, he's not sure what the hell he's going to do.
  Suddenly while he is waiting at a stop light, Elliot receives a mysterious phone call asking him to kill a fly for 1,000.  Elliot thinks that somebody is playing a trick on him until the caller lets him know about a number of personal facts about him.  Elliot kills the fly and gets a message that a thousand dollars has been put into his account.  He then get another phone call that asks him to eat the fly for another 5 grand, which he does and another 5 grand is put into Elliot's bank account.  He then gets another call and the caller explains that this is a game and Elliot has now completed 2 of the 13 tasks that need to be completed to win the grand prize of millions of dollars and a new life.  The caller tells Elliot that if he fails to complete a task, reveals the game to anyone or interferes in any way during the game, he will lose everything that he has already earned.  Elliot agrees to play and the caller says that he will be in touch tomorrow.
  The next day while picnicking with Shelby's family, Elliot gets a call and he is asked to make a child cry.  Elliot reluctantly finds a little girl and tells her that she is adopted and her parents don't love her.  She starts crying and runs away and so does Elliot!  He runs back to Shelby and tells everyone that he's got to get going.  Elliot rushes Shelby to the car and an irate mother starts banging on the passenger side window, screaming at him.  Elliot floors it and Shelby has no idea what's going on.  Then Elliot gets another phone call and pulls the car over, he tells Shelby that he has to do some stuff, like a surprise for her and the wedding and runs off after a homeless man.  As the tasks progress, they become more and more disturbing, which includes arson, desecrating a corpse and chopping someone's arm off, and Elliot feels that he has no choice to complete these tasks because the police are now looking for him and if he doesn't win, he'll be going to jail for a very long time.  Can Elliot complete the twisted tasks and win the grand prize to help his family or has he already lost more than he already knows?

  I'm not usually to big on remakes but I thought this one was pretty fun.  This was based on the Thai film called "13: Game of Death", which I saw when it came out but not since, so I can't really compare how close to the original it is because I can't remember.  However, I did think that this version was pretty enjoyable and director Daniel Stamm blends a good mix of dark humour and horror violence into it.
  I like the Elliot's character, played by Mark Webber (Jessabelle, Scott Pilgrim vs the World) and how he goes from this nice guy push over to someone who can finally stand up for himself when it's necessary.  His character arc is good and Webber has some excellent comedy chops for some of the sillier parts of the film.  Also, I think that Ron Pearlman (HellBoy, Drive) is excellent in this as well.  He plays a cop, who may or may not be working for the mystery voice on the phone and is searching for Elliot to find out what's really going on.  Pearlman's character holds his cards to his chest the whole film and his reveal is pretty decent at the end.  
  There are also some deliciously depraved scenes in the film, like Elliot having to pull a "Weekend at Bernie's" while sitting in a diner surrounded by cops or an terrific arm chopping off scene that is reminiscent to something from "Hostel".  The effects are top notch and they even made me wince and chuckle at times.

  However, there are some issues with the story that I found, like the ending.  Not so much the ending but the epilogue.  For such a dark film the epilogue is rather cheerful and some people survive that maybe shouldn't have.  For me, there needs to be a karmic balance and some sort of retribution for actions taken in the film and I don't think justice is properly dealt out here in the end.
  Also a one point, Elliot breaks out of a police station by kidnapping a police captain and that story disappears like in the next scene, after he busts out a window and onto the street.  Seriously, Elliot runs a block, then the police chase is over and the story moves on.  I can accept the ostrich element, the arm cutting off and even the smashing of the ballroom but this is where the film jumps the shark a bit for me.  It's one block people, I'm sure even the police force in New Orleans can run a couple of blocks.

  With that said, this is still an okay film.  It's not the greatest movie you'll ever see in your life but it's an amusing movie that will keep you on your toes and give you a giggle.  The story is decent, even though it goes a little of the rails near the end, there is some good violence and it's nice to see Ron Pearlman not wearing a dress in an smaller budgeted film.  So, if you're looking for an interesting film about a pushover playing a bizarre and terrifying game for big cash and prizes, than you have hit the jackpot with this one! (ding ding ding ding)



  1. I watched/reviewed this one awhile ago and had a similar take on it. Nice review!