Director Daniel Stamm, who helmed the 2010 horror, The Last Exorcism, has remade the 2006 Thai film 13: Game of Death, which I admittedly haven't seen but hear good things about the original movie. David Birke and Daniel Stamm have based the screenplay for 13 Sins on Chookiat Sakveerakul and Eakasit Thairatana's source material, to create an entertaining tale of horror and desperation. This sort of story is far from original with the Michael Douglas starred The Game being one such example, and the just released low-budget indie comedy Cheap Thrills another, where a man down on his luck and broke is asked to do increasingly bizarre things for a cash reward. 13 Sins, on the other hand, has some similarities to Cheap Thrills, minus the comedy and more of the horror aspect.
The story begins with an elderly university professor giving a speech in front of a large group of esteemed guests. He begins: "A bear taking a dump asks a rabbit, does the shit stick to your fur as a habit? Of course not, says the rabbit, it's actually quite rare. So the bear wiped his ass with the rabbit." He continues with even more gross poetry, then the stunned group watch as he cuts off his wife's finger.
Elliot (Mark Webber, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) is engaged to be married to his pregnant girlfriend Shelby (Rutina Wesley, True Blood). Spineless Elliot works as a salesperson but finds himself out of work one morning thanks to an uncaring boss who dares Elliot to tell him to "f*ck off," in order to save his job, but Elliot can't, which means he can no longer pay for the special care needed for his mentally disabled brother Tom (Devon Graye, who played the young Dexter Morgan in the TV show Dexter). Elliot also has a cruel racist father (Tom Bower) to contend with which is just one more worry for our hero who is a bit of a loser and introvert, and has been since childhood.
Driving home at night after being canned, Elliot is waiting at a crossing while a fly is buzzing about the car bothering him when his cellphone rings. It's a man offering him $100 to swat the fly and to begin a game where he can earn a fortune. All he needs to do is complete 13 tasks, the second of which is to eat the fly and earn $500. Elliot agrees to play the game but as it progresses he finds himself in serious trouble with the law as the requests become ever more bizarre, including multiple murders. He can't tell anyone and doesn't know who to trust as the man on the phone appears to have any number of people working for him and has an uncanny way of knowing exactly what's happening. He also has a cop (Ron Pearlman) on his tail, following the trail of mayhem Elliot is leaving in his wake.
13 Sins may not be completely original, but I found myself engrossed and thoroughly entertained from the start. Mark Webber's performance was key and watching him go from an introvert loser then gain his confidence was interesting. During one of his tasks he even gets a chance to give out some payback to a couple of brothers who bullied him at school, by putting on some serious hurt.
It was fun seeing some of the situations he was getting into as he tried to keep up the tasks to earn all that cash, and then watching Elliot trying to get away with them but not being able to tell anyone why he was acting as he was. In actual fact, the film Brewster's Millions comes to mind as Richard Pryor's character was also in a similar position, where he had to behave a certain way but risked losing a fortune if he told anyone why.
13 Sins had some great twists and turns and also had a decent amount of humor that kept the film well-balanced. If you enjoy horror with a clever story then 13 Sins will keep you entertained for 90-minutes, which actually flew in too quickly as I was enjoying myself so much. Highly recommended.
Review by Ed BlackadderShare: