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Thursday, June 5, 2014

13 Sins (Anchor Bay Blu-ray) - Can You Count to 13?

You get a call that tells you to do something for money. Kill a fly. Eat a fly. Do you do it? Sounds like one great big con to me, and maybe that's the case in 13 Sins from Anchor Bay, but I'd be hard pressed not to at least give it a go if the task at hand was within my comfort zone. Killing a fly... do it every day. Eating a fly... every other day. I'd like to think that once the whole thing escalated I'd immediately shut the game down, but I'm the guy who always wanted to go on Fear Factor to prove that I could handle their worst, guts and insect challenges even though I'm terrified of spiders. 13 Sins is a great companion film to the recently released Cheap Thrills, featuring a similar premise of cash-for-task game played by desperate individuals. The comparison is out there, but I assure you they are two completely different movies, both excellent and both worth a viewing at the very least.

Synopsis from Anchor Bay:

Elliot (Mark Webber, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) is a bright but meek social services coordinator, drowning in debt and desperate because he's about to marry the love of his life (Rutina Wesley, HBO’s “True Blood”). Upon receiving a cryptic phone call informing him that he’s on a hidden camera game show where he must execute 13 tasks, Elliot learns he will be on his way to winning a multimillion dollar cash prize if he quickly follows through with his first two instructions: swat the fly that is currently bothering him and then eat the fly. Although thousands of dollars are suddenly appearing in his bank account, Elliot remains suspicious, though comforted by the knowledge that he can stop playing at any time if only to lose every penny that he's won. As he leaves a path of destruction behind him and runs away from the law (Ron Perlman, Hellboy), Elliot’s need to complete the game escalates as the tasks grow increasingly sinister, to a devastating point of no return.

I don't want to give too much away about how the challenges evolve, but I will say that the tasks are clever. You're meant to believe that there could be absolutely no harm in performing the task as dictated by the mysterious, gameshow host voice on the other end of the line, but, much like the tale of the monkey's paw, each task has an unforeseen consequence or element of hidden misery. Often gross, these tasks will test you, but I assure you this isn't a Saw-like feature with a kill by numbers approach. Effects are all good though I would say they aren't necessarily the focal point of the picture.

Performances from all involved were solid, but Mark Webber is really amazing as the lead providing heart and vigor to a character than is meant to represent any one of us. Ron Perlman (of everything) and Devon Graye (True Blood) both create a vision of terror balanced with sympathy for our male lead that allows 13 Sins to really take hold. It's easy to emotionally attach to Webber as Elliot which is essential to getting the maximum benefit of watching this picture though I would stress that this is all about the challenges Elliot must perform.

Extras include a commentary track with director Daniel Stamm, Mark Webber, Ron Perlman and Devon Graye. There's an alternate ending, deleted scenes, Anatomy of a Meltdown feature and a making of extra.

13 Sins asks you to look inside yourself to find out what is important to you. What do you value? How far would you go for love and financial freedom? The moral dilemma is age old and the way it is conveyed feels fresh. I strongly recommend this picture. The director of The Last Exorcism brings us another tale of terror worth enjoying.

You can pick up 13 Sins now.

-Doc Terror

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