Sometimes when you watch a movie that you've never seen or heard of before, the result is less than pleasing. Whether it's due to a poor script or bad acting, or just a general sense of the story being mundane. But with '13 Sins', that is not the case. This remake of the 2006 Thai thriller that was titled '13 Beloved' is quite entertaining and I'm surprised that this didn't receive a wider release than it did in theaters, considering its solid premise and great cast of actors.
And let me also mention that the director of '13 Sins' is Daniel Stamm, who directed 2010's blockbuster horror film 'The Last Exorcism'. So for this film to not get a release in theaters after the success of 'The Last Exorcism' is beyond me, but I'm sure this will find a nice cult following on home-video, or at least it deserves to. '13 Sins' could be compared to 'Saw', 'The Game', and 'The Brass Teapot', all of which are great films to resemble. I don't think this horror/thriller will change the game anytime soon, but it sure is one great addition to the genre.
'13 Sins' focuses on a young man named Elliot Brindle (Mark Webber from 'Scott Pilgrim'), who is an insurance salesman who is finding it difficult to stay afloat money-wise, as he had a lot of debt to pay off. Luckily his fiancee Shelby (Rutina Wesley from 'True Blood'), loves him unconditionally and is having his baby. Elliot is a good man. He's soft spoken, kind, and always wants to avoid conflict and confrontation. After he is fired from his job for not having the jerk-like insurance salesman attitude, his life seems to take a turn for the worse.
He then receives a strange phone call from someone, informing him that he is on some sort of hidden camera show and that he must compete 13 different tasks, where each task would earn him money that would amount up to a few million dollars. And given his current unfortunate situation, he accepts this offer. The first task is for him to kill the fly that is buzzing around him, which he does and he sees that he is paid handsomely for it in his bank account. The second task is for him to eat the dead fly, which of course he does, and he is paid even more to his surprise. But after this, the tasks get more diabolical and super violent, forcing Elliot to confront his fear of confrontation and deal with some pretty emotional set-ups.
Meanwhile, a police detective named Chilcoat (Ron 'man-god' Perlman), is on Elliot's tail as his crime spree goes all over town. Chilcoat is close to cracking the case to see who and what is behind this mad violent game. And with a name like Chilcoat, how can you not like this character. From verbally abusing a school girl to beating up his old middle school bully, Elliot has transformed into a madman, hell bent on doing whatever it takes to win money, no matter how violent and crazy the task is.
The story is a slow build with a fast pace, revealing surprises and twists when you least expect them. Certainly Elliot is learning that money doesn't come easy. I think Stamm really wanted to explore a man's transformation from good to evil, but he focused more on the actual tasks than showing this character transformation, which isn't necessarily all that bad, but I do wish a little more time was spent tackling that development.
I did enjoy how each character was written to be much more than who we were presented with on the surface. '13 Sins' never really goes into the stereotypical cliche world, but instead surprises us at every turn. Each actor delivers a solid and believable performance that is very emotional at times and the story line delivers the goods throughout its 92 minute run time. '13 Sins' is a breath of fresh air in this horror/thriller genre.
'13 Sins' comes with a very good 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. While this image looks good, I wouldn't say that it pops off the screen. In fact, this is a more grimy and pale image, considering the dark subject matter. That being said, the detail is almost always very sharp and vivid that reveals fine closeups that show individual hairs, wrinkles, and makeup blemishes quite nicely. Textures are also striking throughout.
Colors are well-balanced and realistic as well, but nothing seems to shine bright or have that certain pop. Skin tones are natural and black levels are consistently deep and inky. I think there could have been a more organic feel to the image, but that's a minor complaint. There were some small moments of banding and video noise from time to time, but all other issues were non-existent. Overall, this was a solid video presentation.
This release comes with a great lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and always packs a punch. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. It's perfectly situated and balanced on the center channel and is completely free of any pops, cracks, or hissing as well.
The sound effects are loud and robust and receive good play from the rear speakers. Power tools, gun shots, and beatings sound real and loud here. Ambient noises of people talking, cars, and nature noises also sound good. There is a good sense of directionality with this audio track along with a very wide dynamic range. Will this audio mix change your life? No, but it certain gets the job done for this small budget thriller.
Audio Commentary - Daniel Stamm, Mark Webber, Devon Graye, and Ron Perlman all discuss making the film. If you get an opportunity to listen to Ron Perlman do a commentary track, you say "Yes." They all discuss the origins of the movie, the script, the casting, the music, and some fun stories that happened on set. This is a must-listen.
The Making of '13 Sins' (HD, 9 mins.) - Here is a short, but fun look at what it was like to shoot in New Orleans. There are cast and crew interviews, and some on-set footage.
Deleted Sequence (HD, 6 mins.) - Here is a certain task that didn't make it into the final film. It's pretty brutal and is a great deleted scene that you'll want to see.
Alternate Ending (HD, 2 mins.) - Here is a much darker ending to the film for your enjoyment.
Anatomy of a Meltdown (HD, 3 mins.) - This is a hilarious bonus feature. This is a Skype call between director Daniel Stamm and writer David Birke where Stamm cuts a scene Birke has been working on for days. It just so happens to be the scene that is the deleted sequence, and Birke completely loses his cool. It's quite funny.
'13 Sins' is a fun and highly entertaining film. It's dark, violent, and very thrilling. Plus it has a great cast that includes Ron Perlman, and who doesn't want to see Ron Perlman? The directing, script, and acting are all solid here, making this movie a must see for genre fans. And yes, there is enough blood and guts for you here too. The video and audio presentations are both good, and the extras are all great. If you're a fan of the horror/thriller genre, than you'll love to have this movie in your collection. Highly Recommended!