Children of Sin is the new film from writer/director/actor Christopher Wesley Moore and like his previous films Blessed Are the Children, Stranger Among the Living, and Triggered, (not to be confused with the South African film Triggered) it’s a horror film with a strong dose of religious and social commentary. His previous films have managed to walk the line between delivering scares and delivering their message, can he keep that steak going here?
Tammy (Keni Bounds, Blessed Are the Children) is marrying Robbie (Jeff Buchwald, Bastard’s Crossing, The Wilderness Road). This doesn’t sit well with her children Emma (Meredith Mohler, And Then There was Blood, Jagged Mind) and Jackson (Lewis Hines, Mimi: Blood Thicker Than Water). Maybe because he’s a religious zealot who demands total obedience and finds sin in everyone but himself. And he doesn’t consider making advances on his own stepdaughter as sinful.
Further complicating matters, Emma is in the early stages of pregnancy and Jackson likes other guys. So, they’re sent to Abraham House, a place for troubled adolescents run by Mary Esther (Jo-Ann Robinson, Scalps, The Devil’s Dolls) while their mother tries to sort things out with her husband to be. What they don’t know is it’s more like a Christian brainwashing school, with a high price to be paid by those who can’t be saved.
The problem with trying to center a film around wrongdoing by fundamentalist Christians, or fundamentalists of any religion really, is that it’s so hard to compete with reality. And that’s a problem that Children of Sin faces right from the start. It’s repulsive but not surprising when we see Robbie getting handsy with Emma, we’ve seen this in the news too many times before. The same when we discover Mary Esther’s son Hank (Christopher Wesley Moore, Perversion, Lock In) is in the closet.
Moore however has a few surprises up his sleeve such as Mary Esther’s version of conversion therapy which caught me totally off guard. It’s a genuinely disturbing moment. Much of the rest of the film is a bit more predictable, however. From the father of Emma’s child to Mary Ester having picked up a few moves from Gloria Grahame’s character, Mrs. Deere, in Blood and Lace.
While it might not be as original as Moore’s last film, Stranger Among the Living, Children of Sin does tell its story very efficiently, delivering a fair number of scares and suspense. The last half hour is especially effective even if we know where it’s going, there’s plenty of doubt as to who will survive and what will be left of them.
There is a fairly high body count for a low-budget slasher, and the kills while not overly gory aren’t bloodless either. Much of it seems to be practical but unfortunately, there is some digital blood involved in Children of Sin’s mayhem as well. It’s not ideal but it’s certainly better than relying on bloodless stabbings and offscreen kills like so many other low-budget slashers.
Overall Children of Sin is a solid slasher with quite a few jumps and a few genuinely twisted moments. It makes its points about the hypocrisy found in many zealots, by way of lies told to others as well as to one’s self, nicely even if much of it feels like something we’ve read in the news already. But maybe that’s why it works because much of it is credible because it has happened.
Children of Sin debuts on Digital and VOD platforms on April 22nd. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more details. And if you’re looking for something to hold you over until then, FilmTagger can recommend something.