Change, beg God’s forgiveness, or die. There is a straightforward choice to be made in Christopher Wesley Moore’s Children of Sin, but the themes within are anything but. Homophobia, abuse, rape, self-mutilation and suicide are central to a narrative about the evils of conversion therapy. And while Moore is clear on this last point, there are questions to be asked over whether these subjects should be so clumsily and disrespectfully used in what is, essentially, a B-movie slasher.

Pregnant teenager Emma (Meredith Mohler) and her brother Jackson (Lewis Hines) are sent by their mother – under the manipulative influence of their devout new stepfather – to a retreat which specialises in bringing troubled souls back into God’s fold. Or not.

Children of Sin is at its moderate best when Moore leans into the B-movie aspects of his film. The slasher kills are bloody, and the retreat’s matriarch Mary Esther (Jo-Ann Robinson) provides an interesting villain, fearsomely doling out swift and violent punishment to any of her charges who dare to step out of line. And a synth soundtrack harks back to the glory days of the slasher.

Yet tonally the film is inconsistent. The retreat’s victims are just that, abused physically or mentally, but their interactions are almost comedic, sharing their stories as if discussing their favourite television shows. There is no sobriety to the subjects being discussed, with the characters simply cyphers for whatever ‘crime’ they have committed.

Ultimately, Children of Sin feels more misguided than malicious. And within the slasher genre, the reasons for the potential victims being in the same place is less important than how you dispatch them.


Children of Sin is available on digital in the US.