The Cinefessions crew loves sharing their opinions on films, but not every movie can get the attention it deserves with a full review. Enter the Cinefessions’ Capsule Reviews. These capsule reviews cover five of the most important aspects of a film, which allow the crew to deliver their opinions on any movie clearly, decisively, and with brevity. These are not our full thoughts on any film, just a highlighting of the major pros and/or cons.


13 SinsTitle13 Sins (2014)
Director: Daniel Stamm
Runtime: 93 minutes
Acting
Marc Webber is as much a revelation here as Macon Blair is in Blue Ruin. He plays Elliot’s transformation perfectly, and I wanted to continue watching to see just how far he would let himself go. His brother is mentally handicapped, and Devon Graye plays this role with immense believability. I last saw Graye in Tusk (2011), where I pointed him out as an actor with a bright future in front of him. As good as he was there, he is ten times better here in a much different role.

 

Story & Script
If you had the opportunity to kill a fly to win $1,000 from an unknown source, you would probably at least try it. When that money hits your account, you may not think twice when that same unknown source promises $6,000 to eat that recently deceased fly. If you complete these two, you have successfully finished the first two of thirteen challenges. The problem is that these challenges get more and more grim as they continue, and this is the problem that Elliot faces. He is a father-to-be, the caregiver to a mentally handicapped brother, and trying to put together a wedding all at the same time. Oh, and his racist dad needs to move in because they cannot afford the assisted living facility he is currently in because Elliot just got fired from his job. Bad day, right? Well his story is what drives this film forward, and it gets more and more fascinating with every challenge. It’s a really strong idea, and it’s executed flawlessly.

Direction
The way that Daniel Stamm is able to piece this puzzle together is excellent. There is never a dull moment in 13 Sins. What amazes me most is that even the beginning of the film, when we are just learning of Elliot’s life, is exciting to watch. One wonders how badly Elliot’s day can possibly get. The gore effects are done shockingly well, too, and every different challenge makes for a visual feast.

Intangibles
I will admit that, outside of Hellboy, Ron Perlman can be hit or miss for me. Even though he plays pretty much one note this entire film, there’s something about him in this that I genuinely liked. He puts on a strong performance as the Detective, and following his story is almost as interesting as following Elliot around. The way 13 Sins ends up is absolutely brutal, and I did not see the ending coming at all, which is refreshing.

Rewatchability
This isn’t an easy film to watch because of the subject matter, but it’s one I will definitely revisit in the future just because it is so damn good.

The Verdict
13 Sins is an excellent horror film. The pace never slows down, and I was eager as hell to get to the final act to see how it all ended up. The ending is unexpected and much more difficult to watch than I could have imagined, which puts 13 Sins close to the top of my under-appreciated films of 2014 (well, excluding Cinefessions, of course, where it ended up on two 2014 Top 10 lists).

four_stars
Buy-it-Now-From-Amazon
Branden Chowen
Editor-in-Chief at Cinefessions

Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.