Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Sinners (2020) Film Review
Reviewed by: Stephanie Brown
Courtney Paige’s The Sinners is an aesthetic homage to the horror cinema of the Nineties, unravelling as a timely tribute to movies such as The Craft, Scream, and camp romps like I Know What You Did Last Summer. The Sinners manages to capture the nostalgia, with glimpses of modern narrative shining through. Unfortunately, it tries to unpack more than Paige’s structure allowed.
When one member of a rebellious school clique threatens to reveal the group’s exploits, a plot for revenge takes a dark turn, leading to a chain of events that no one could have predicted, as the dark corners of their religious town begin to take shape.
The Sinners is a celebratory film from the way it encapsulates the narrative structure, trademark slasher design, and the subtextual angst of the teen horror genre. While the plot appears pretty simplistic, there is a subtlety to the way that Paige experiments with the narrative conventions that have been pre-established within the network of slasher compositions. In Paige’s cinema there is a much more blurred landscape between the lines of good and evil, where the ideological themes that lead to such polarities become distorted and changed throughout The Sinners. It’s always refreshing to find a sense of instability to the conclusions drawn from religious topics - where the pure characters can transform, and the antagonists can reform. Paige and Hazlehurst’s screenplay does not relay the straight laced narrative we would expect from a film like The Sinners, it is one in which the final girl(s) cannot be picked from the first ten minutes of meeting the characters.
The main problem that presents itself during The Sinners is the pace of the film. Many of the girls within the group are killed off before we’ve even taken in their name, and the tension that leads up to the slayings, which is crucial in asserting the tone of slasher films, is lost. It is innovative how Paige adds complexities to the moral standing of each of the girls, but it is difficult to establish whether the complexities are driven from the absence of the characters’ development in the script more so than anything else. The main cast does well to add depth to their roles, but the pace of the plot does not allow them much room to explore further than horror stereotypes - without the edge or consistency.
The Sinners is an interesting tribute to the slasher scene, but the characterisation never has much room to breathe and allow for the spectator to make much of a connection to the people on screen. The building blocks for an experimental addition to the teen horror genre are all there, and worthy of recognition, but they never manage to smoothly join at the seams to bring together the kookiness of horror cinema with a pulse above aesthetic appreciation.Reviewed on: 29 Nov 2021
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