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  Sinners, The Victim Blaming
Year: 2020
Director: Courtney Paige
Stars: Kaitlyn Bernard, Brenna Llewellyn, Brenna Coates, Keilani Elizabeth Rose, Jasmine Randhawa, Natalie Malaika, Carly Fawcett, Tahmoh Penikett, Loretta Walsh, Karis Cameron, Maxwell Haynes, Aleks Paunovich, Elysia Rotaru, Taylor St Pierre, Lochlyn Munro
Genre: Horror, Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Aubrey Miller (Brenna Llewellyn) is now dead, lying at the bottom of a lake, but she would like to tell you how this happened, nonetheless. She was living in a small town that was very religious, in a Christian fundamentalist way, which rather than make its denizens more decent and good, made them suspicious of each other and keen to seek out what they perceived as the sins of others. This was why Aubrey was more or less forced to be part of a clique of girls at school who were named after the seven deadly sins - led by virginal Lust (Kaitlyn Bernard); she was nicknamed Pride, though she did not see anything wrong with being proud of her piety and knowledge of the Bible. But she adhered to her faith a lot closer than the others in this manufactured group...

The Sinners, also known as The Color Rose, was one of those horrors or thrillers that sought to reassess the victim role, usually the young and attractive victim who seemed to be punished by the movies and television shows they were in for precisely those qualities. David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks had been the first of these to try to shake up those sadly traditional victim concepts, not the first, perhaps, but very influential and not always in a helpful manner, though the series' return after a long hiatus took the rehabilitation of the victim to wild extremes, and this appeared to trigger other works along the same lines. Works such as this one, notable for being written by three women and directed by one of them, actress Courtney Paige.

Although criticised in places for sticking to cliches well worn in previous efforts, actually the critique was coming from inside the house! Or inside the movie, anyway, as we were confronted with the tropes of these things, idealised teenage girls, over-elaborate methods of dispatch and post-mortem arrangements, adults who just don't understand, and proceeded to mix them up in a style that had obvious surface attractions, yet underneath were used to highlight how these notions had been overused and employed to protract a set of plot points far past the state of making any reasonable sense. However, it was difficult to discern how much of this had been deliberate and how much Paige and company became entranced by what was a curiously enticing set of circumstances characters such as these presented for talents hankering after a bit of class for their unlovely thrillers and chillers.

Lynch and Frost had, to their credit, offered an assessment of this whole thing with an intellectual bloody-mindedness that, mixed with the demented surrealism, proved a hard act to follow, and Paige did not really better that. But that was not to say this was an outright failure, as it went in an alternative direction as set out by works like Tim Hunter's eighties cult classic River's Edge where the teens had their own morals bastardised by an apathy around them for anything but adults laying down the law in "Because I said so" fashion, serving to press down on their potential for bad behaviour until it splurged out into violence. Not that this eschewed the bonus of a movie that had a slick, superficially attractive sheen, and though they overdid the "slow motion then speed up" camera trick, The Sinners was more of a hotchpotch of provocative observations that worked themselves out on an emotional, subconscious level than enjoying a narrative that was all wrapped up in a neat bow, and like that, for its obvious fantasy of murder and social confusion, it contained an authenticity of purpose.

[Signature Entertainment presents The Sinners on Digital Platforms 22nd February 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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