DVD REVIEW: 13 SINS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: DANIEL STAMM / SCREENPLAY: DAVID BIRKE, DANIEL STAMM / STARRING: MARK WEBBER, RON PERLMAN, PRUITT TAYLOR VINCE, RUTINA WESLEY, TOM BOWER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Can committing thirteen sins turn a man into a monster? When down on his luck salesman Elliot Brindle (Webber) is told by a mysterious voice on the phone that he could win serious cash prizes for completing thirteen tasks, he leaps at the chance. But from swatting a fly to decapitating a person, the challenges get increasingly twisted as the game continues.
A remake of the Thai film, 13: Game of Death, 13 Sins has the potential to be a darkly comic nightmare from start to finish. Opening with an attention-grabbing scene of a former game player who tells dirty limericks to an assembled audience before cutting a woman’s finger off, it certainly gets off to a promising start. Elliot is a good-hearted sap, not cut out for sales and quickly fired from his job. To add to his money worries, he has a pregnant fiancée, an autistic brother and a miserable father all depending on him.
The promise of quick cash is too tempting for Elliot and the games begin. But, like a jollier version of Saw’s serial killer Jigsaw, the voice at the end of the phone is not going to make it easy for him. The tasks turn from the straightforward to the sadistic to the ridiculous and Elliot soon finds himself completely frazzled and in serious danger.
As the challenges become more sensational, 13 Sins detours into Saw-like territory and Elliot finds he has a detective (Perlman) hot on his heels. Pruitt Taylor Vince pops up as a man determined to probe the mystery of the puppeteers behind the game but the scenes between Perlman’s detective and Vince’s conspiracy nut detract from the fun of watching Elliot jump through hoops while mentally unravelling.
Helmed by Daniel Stamm, the director of effective found footage horror The Last Exorcism, 13 Sins unfortunately takes it exciting premise and wastes it, with an unsatisfactory lack of real tension or humour. Despite the best efforts of Mark Webber, who is excellent as Elliot, the big moments lack the pizzazz to truly shock, horrify or make you laugh out loud. Add to that the fact that Perlman is criminally wasted and 13 Sins ends up being something of a disappointment. Still, there is plenty of enjoyment to be had from watching Elliot find out just how far he is willing to go to earn some much needed money. 13 Sins is a frustrating missed opportunity but entertaining enough to suck you into its wicked game.
Extras: Behind the Scenes