Very direct-to-video, but it’s inspired direct-to video. This is about a man (Mark Webber) who is facing every single hardship in the book (recently fired, getting married, baby on the way, disabled family members moving in, facing eviction). He gets a mysterious phone call offering him $1,000 to swat a fly, and you can imagine his surprise when his bank account actually gets credited with that amount. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, it escalates from there, as there are 13 sins/challenges he has to complete, hence the title. I’ve tried to think of an accurate comparison for this, and I would say it’s a mesh between the video game Heavy Rain, that kind-of-bad-kind-of-awesome John Cena movie 12 Rounds, and the horror classic Saw.
I had to ease the transition from Puppet Master movies back to regular movies by watching a movie that at least implied puppetry on its cover, like a heroin user detoxes to methadone.
This works more often than it doesn’t, but you do have to work to suspend your disbelief, as the plausibility that this could actually happen is minuscule to say the least. The thing about this that keeps it so engaging is the segmenting of this; you are always interested in seeing where this is going because it is always moving right on to the next level. Also, the math adds up for people with A.D.D.; 93 minutes (runtime) divided by 13 (sins) = a challenge every 7.15 minutes on average. I think I already used this comparison for my earlier review of Cheap Thrills, but this is like that joke from Arrested Development where there is a series of escalated dares that results in Gob getting married; you know it’s not going to a good place, but you still want to see how our main character gets there.
The most recognizable face in this is Ron Perlman, but that’s not surprising, because as long as you’re giving him a paycheck, he’s going to show up (see: The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption). My only real critiques on this are relatively small. The motivation of the man behind the curtain isn’t really something that is worthwhile, which does make it less satisfying than it could have been. Also, it’s a small enough cast where it can only be so many people holding the proverbial smoking gun, so if you’ve been paying attention and doing your detective work, you have pretty good odds of pinning this on the right person. In conclusion, this is a fine movie to happen upon, and if you’re just stumbling around on Netflix looking for something to watch, you wouldn’t feel like you wasted 90 minutes of your time.
13 Sins (2014) ***
– Critic for Hire