THE SINNERS (aka THE COLOR ROSE, 2020)
Directed by Courtney Paige.
Written by Courtney Paige, Erin Hazlehurst, Madison Smith.
Starring Kaitlyn Bernard, Brenna Llewellyn, Brenna Coates, Keilani Elizabeth Rose, Jasmine Randhawa, Carly Fawcett, Natalie Malaika, Aleks Paunovic, Lochlyn Munro, Dylan Playfair, Tahmoh Penikett, Loretta Walsh, Elysia Rotaru, Jerry Trimble, Michael Eklund, Jen Araki, Karis Cameron, Kevin Forrest Clark, Kaya Coleman, Lindsay Gibson, Maxwell Haynes, Devon Kenzo, Francine Laimana, Kalani Laimana, Craig March, Madison Moore, James Neate, Courtney Paige, Amber Piche, Pierre Piche, Mila Santos, Taylor St. Pierre, Brendan Taylor, Samantha Thomas, Teagan Vincze, Alexanne Wagner
Find out more about this film here!
A clique of high school gals in a small religious town are dubbed the Seven Deadly Sins and begin meeting in secret practicing un-bible-like things. This raises the ire of many in the town and when the girls begin to be picked off one by one, everyone is a suspect.
Remember that one movie where the high school girls walk in slo mo through the halls and everyone around them looks at them in awe? The one where the popular and pretty gals are all besties despite being heinous to one another and everyone else? If you answered HEATHERS, THE CRAFT, MEAN GIRLS, JAWBREAKER, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, FOXFIRE, SAVED!, and countless other teen gal flicks then you’re right. That’s the one! The ones responsible for THE SINNERS have seen them all and pretty much lift every idea from those films, wrench it dry of humor, fun, suspense, character, and common sense, and churned out this floating turd of a movie. This film is all over the place and given that it is credited to writers Courtney Page, Erin Hazelhurst, and Madison Smith, it feels like each of them wrote a draft and then Exquisite Corpsed all three together in some kind of experiment on who can write the most incomprehensible take on mean teen girl trillers. And guess what, they all won!
THE SINNERS starts out with a LOVELY BONES-esque narration from a gal who tells the viewer that she is dead and then goes on to tell us how she died. We are introduced to our septet of gals described only at a bare minimum as each represents one of the seven deadly sins. One eats a lot. One is lazy. One is greedy. One is jelly. One is sexy. One’s got anger issues. And the last one, Aubrey (Brenna Llewellyn) is the bible-thumping gal overcome with Jesus-loving pride. This last one is our dead girl narrator and while this is her story, the film focuses on Grace (Kaitlyn Bernard), the lusty one, because…I don’t know. Reasons. She drew the longest straw, maybe? With little to no characterization beyond their specific sin and no real time spent giving the viewer a chance to get to know these gals other than repeated slo mo shots of them walking and sitting around school set to cheerleader pop music and Tori Amos wannabe emo, the Sinners gang up on Aubrey because she tells Grace’s pastor father (Tahmoh Penikett) about their acceptance of the Seven Deadly Sins as a girl-gang name. They gag her, take her to a cabin by the lake, and kick her a few times, but Aubrey escapes, disappears, and is feared to be dead by the town. It’s at this point, the film stops being about girls bullying other gals and morphs into a slasher where each of the sinners are picked off one by one by an unknown killer. But wait, there’s a subplot about a small-town sheriff (Aleks Paunovic) who is trying to get his wife pregnant and is being tormented by a pair of big town cops (Lochlyn Munro and Michael Eklund). More characters are also randomly tossed in like a flower salesman and his hippie wife, a few Satan worshippers, a creepy principal, and a town coroner, each given more screen time than they need or deserve and ultimately ending up being utterly unimportant to the story.
This film feels like a mystery film made by someone who doesn’t understand what the word mystery means. It attempts to toss out clues, but only after the fact. The flower salesman is arrested because the sheriff finds evidence linking him to the crimes. We know this not because we are shown a scene where the sheriff finds this evidence, but because we are told this by our dead girl narrator after the flower guy is arrested. The narrator also adds that the flower guy and the sheriff never got along, but we don’t see the sheriff and the flower guy get into a kerfuffle or even spend a scene together. Everything is in the narration, as if it simply exists to fill in the holes three screenwriters were unable to write their way out of. Just as we were told exactly which sin is attached to which girl and given endless poetic diatribes on the hypocrisy of religion, the complexities of sin, and the status of each girl since, you know, action happening in scene is, like, so fetch.
So much time is spent on one of the specific sin gals, Grace, angsting over the fact that they beat up Aubrey and mere seconds are spent on developing the other girls and their respective demises. The big killer reveal is so out of the blue involving the killer teaming with a character that no one knows anything about. It all leads to an extended SCooby Doo unmasking scene with Grace tied up and listening to the killer explain how they committed the crimes and how they will get away with it, and finally dares to try to evoke SE7EN in the end. Is this the first movie made via Mad Libs and no one told me about it?
First time feature filmmaker and co-writer Courtney Paige is the one responsible for this stinkeroonie with cheese and if there was a Hollywood jail, she needs to spend a bit of time in it to reflect on the incomprehensible mess she has put forth. THE SINNERS is a mish-mash mess of a ton of better movies starring some talented faces you’ll recognize from much better things. Just writing this review doubled down on the headache I got from watching this film. So I’ll just end it here and tell you all to steer far, far away from this one.