One of the major problems with horror-thrillers today is that few writers/directors take the time to present a plot that has the ability to keep the audience’s attention while taking them through a disturbing journey. As if in answer to this dilemma, Daniel Stamm and David Birke have remade the Thai film “13 Beloved” into “13 Sins,” a strange and twisted film that centers on Elliot (Mark Webber), a young man who is having extreme financial difficulties, something that is particularly hard on him with having to take care of his mentally-handicapped brother and a father in assisted living, on top of preparing to marry his pregnant fiancée. To make matters worse, he gets fired from his job, so when he gets a mysterious phonecall from someone telling him he’s on a gameshow, he jumps at the chance. The challenge is to complete 13 tasks for a whole lot of money. They start off small, such as killing a fly and eating it, but they soon increase in difficulty, forcing Elliot to do things he never imagined he’d have to do. However, out of desperation and his love for his fiancée, he puts everything at risk to earn the money, even if it means breaking a multitude of laws in the process.
“13 Sins” is a tense and thrilling rollercoaster that grabs you just a few minutes in and doesn’t let go until its done taking you through its bizarre trip. The main reason it works so well is because of the escalation of the tasks and not knowing what Elliot could possibly be put through next, in addition to the fact that you’re forced to sit there and wonder how he could possibly get through what’s been put on his plate. The film also acts as a kind of moral quandary, asking you what you might be willing to do in Elliot’s position. Killing and eating a fly might be nothing to some people, especially if there’s a few thousand dollars involved, but when arson, child abuse, and desecration of a corpse get throw into the mix, there would no doubt be many people who would be appalled, even if there was a six-figure prize involved. However, for those who are low on options, such as an average guy like Elliot, it merely presents a challenge as to how to complete the task, giving us a first-hand look at how someone in such a situation might proceed.
It’s quite clear that the film is meant as a thriller, but shortly into the list of challenges, it becomes evident that is also meant to be a very dark comedy. There are some parts that are so over the top and ridiculous as Elliot tries to complete his tasks that you can’t help but laugh at how silly things get. I don’t want to give anything away, but as you can probably guess, some of these tasks don’t go according to plan, and there’s even one that forces him to act out a little of “Weekend at Bernie’s.” However, don’t let this make you think that the film is a true horror-comedy. For the most part, it’s very serious and does contain many violent scenes, particularly in the latter half of the film where things escalate quickly. It’s here where the film takes its only real misstep, which involves an ending that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense given everything that Elliot’s gone through up to that point. Even so, “13 Sins” is an effective thriller that shows that, with a little effort and an intriguing premise, there’s still a little life in a genre that many find to be decaying.
“13 Sins” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.40:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality. The picture remains perfectly sharp and clear throughout the presentation without a trace of blurriness. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is equally top-notch. The track presents all audio elements at perfect levels, allowing every little sound to be heard in crystal clear quality. Overall, both areas give you an optimal experience.
Feature Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Daniel Stamm, Mark Webber, Ron Perlman, and Devon Graye: A decent commentary track that has the director and three stars of the film giving their thoughts on it. Features some interesting behind the scenes details, making it worth a listen.
The Making of 13 Sins: An eight-minute look at the making of the film. It’s very superficial, offering very little in the way of in-depth info, so it’s not really worth the time to watch.
Deleted Sequence: A challenge that was dropped from the movie. It’s not a particularly interesting one, and was more than likely deleted because it was just too silly. Easily skippable.
Alternate Ending: An ending that, while intriguing, would have been a little over the top. However, it’s still worth taking a look at.
Anatomy of a Meltdown: A pointless inclusion that features one of the writers breaking down over the deletion of the challenge mentioned earlier. Another one that’s easily skippable.
“13 Sins” gives us a break from the same old dull horror-thriller premises by presenting one that provides real thrills, engages the audience, and gives you a few good laughs along the way. As the film progresses, so does the intensity of the challenges, making sure you are always on the edge of your seat in anticipation of what could possibly happen next. The ending may have needed a little work to help it conclude on a high note, but for all the fun and suspense it provides along the way, “13 Sins” ends up being that rare film of the genre that actually works.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
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Recent Blu-ray/DVD releases: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Tim’s Vermeer, Alan Partridge, RoboCop (2014), Alexander: The Ultimate Cut, Ravenous, Son of God, The Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection, Stalingrad, The Monuments Men, Pompeii, 3 Days to Kill, Grand Piano,