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Rima Te Wiata,
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Elliot Brindle is a bright, meek salesman, drowning in debt - and desperate as he's about to marry the love of his life. Upon receiving a phone call informing him that he's on a hidden camera game show where he must execute 13 tasks to receive a sum total cash prize of $6.2M, Elliot dismissively follows through with his first two instructions: swat the fly that is currently bothering him, then eat the fly. With thousands of dollars suddenly appearing in his bank account, Elliot remains skeptical, though comforted by the knowledge that he can stop playing at anytime if only to lose every penny that he's won. Trapped into the horrors manipulated by unseen spectators, Elliot's need to complete the game escalates as the tasks grow more extreme, to a devastating point of no return. Written by
"13 Sins" has a lot in common with another recent low-budget, independent film, "Cheap Thrills." In both, a down-on-his-luck young man, driven by extreme desperation, agrees to perform a series of unsavory/immoral/illegal acts in exchange for ever larger quantities of money.
The protagonist of "13 Sins," a psychological thriller written by David Birke and Daniel Stamm and directed by Stamm, is Elliot Brindle (Mark Webber), a harried and harassed insurance agent who has a number of people depending on him for their livelihood and support. These include his pregnant fiancé ("True Blood's" Rutina Wesley), his mentally- challenged younger brother (Devon Graye) and a cantankerous racist dad (Tm Power) who's been evicted from his home and now has to move in with Elliot and his black girlfriend. Then Elliot is summarily fired from his job, leaving him utterly bereft and desperate, until, that is, he receives a call from a mysterious stranger who offers to make Elliot a fortune if he successfully performs 13 tasks as part of a surreal "game show," the hitch being that he can't let anyone in on what he's doing or he'll lose all his winnings.
At first the tasks seem simple enough, but as they escalate in intensity, it quickly becomes apparent that the object of the game is to "show that anyone can be turned into a monster." And Elliot is only too willing to prove that point.
The mood is grim and the humor pitch-black in this Kafkaesque tale of an ordinary man caught in an incomprehensible nightmare from which he cannot awaken, a nightmare filled with shadowy figures and disembodied voices that hold him in their implacable grip - though, if truth be told, the lure of easy wealth can be awfully hard to resist, even when the price is as potentially dear as it is here. The movie is creepy and disturbing in its unflinching look at the morally depraved depths to which desperate people will sink in an effort to ameliorate their situation. It forces us to look at a lot of unsettling aspects of human nature - aspects we might not be all that willing to face - but that's what makes it an effective little horror film in the long run.
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