Sin Eater opens in the aftermath of a brutal car accident, one woman is dead, another survived but with severe trauma to her face and mouth. The survivor is Christine (Jessie Nerud, Dawn of the Hawk, She Walks the Woods). She’s alive but with her jaw wired shut and stuck in a small town in the middle of nowhere.
Needing a place to stay until her mouth has fully healed she takes a run with the sheriff Isaac (Danny Bohnen, The Last Son, Stadium Anthems) and his father Abraham (Scott Moore, The Yacht), the town’s minister. She also befriends the nurse who took care of her in the hospital, Elijah (Scotty Bohnen, The Last Son, Yacht). This causes some friction as the two are rivals for the position of Abraham’s successor as minister.
Writer/director Carmelo Chimera (After Masks) gets things off to a convincing opening that shows what you can do on a low budget. We don’t see the crash but he at least got a convincing looking wreck from the junkyard and invested in some gruesome practical effects for the victims.
Sin Eater is a movie about faith gone wrong. About believers who become zealots. And it’s about how when you silence people long enough, eventually, they’ll make their voices heard.Carmelo Chimera
Sin Eater, as you may have guessed, is rooted in religion. From the biblical names of the town and its inhabitants and the three townsfolk Christine interacts with all being involved in the town’s ministry. Christine herself is a lapsed Catholic, and we see the reason for her lapse in flashbacks to Father Dunn (Bill Moseley, To Your Last Death, Prisoners of the Ghostland) performing conversion therapy that looks more like torture on her at the request of her parents.
Against a backdrop like this it’s not hard to guess that the local religion is anything but benevolent and loving and Christine has some importance to it. Unfortunately Sin Eater’s script doesn’t really deal out much in the way of surprises sticking to familiar tropes like flashbacks, hallucinations, people who may or may not be ghosts, etc. There’s even a YouTube video with a Professor Carpenter (Russell Geoffrey Banks, Who’s Watching Oliver, Cam2Cam) to provide exposition and explain the concept of sin eating.
It’s all very professionally shot and you can tell some effort was put into the making of Sin Eater. We even get to see the opening accident later in the film and it’s a nice bit of stunt work. But the talky and overly familiar middle third of the film works against it, sapping the energy and interest the film’s opening generated.
The final act should have gotten Sin Eater back on track with the cult’s ritual but several scenes are so dark it’s hard to see what is happening. There is a bit of wince-inducing dental damage and some painful looking burn effects that had me hoping for a Devil’s Rain style finale, but instead it just limps along to an ending that isn’t much of a surprise.
I give Carmelo Chimera, along with Nicholas Chimera and Robert O’Neal who provided the original story, credit for coming up with an unusual premise and not making an effects-free low budget film out of it. But Sin Eater doesn’t have enough effects or action to make up for the predictable plotting. Or an interesting enough concept to overcome the talkiness and lack of action. It’s another film that’s just sort of there, watchable if nothing else is available, but nothing special either.
Sin Eater is available on DVD, Digital and VOD platforms from Indican Pictures. You can check their website for more information. And if you’re looking for a different kind of religious horror, Film Tagger has a few suggestions.