As a horror writer looking to keep inspired, I took a chance on watching 13 Sins (2014). If you’re looking for something dark that will make you think (more than a slasher flick, anyway), this film is worth your time.
Quintessential question: can we be driven to commit evil deeds for a price? Hmmm…
The camera follows Elliot Brindle who is a spineless salesman. His boss begs him to grow some balls and stand up for himself. However, his balls can’t be found, and he slinks out of the office for the last time. Now unemployed with a string of people counting on him—a mentally handicapped brother, an abusive and washed up father, and a pregnant fiancé—he drives away. Cue the perfect time to get a freakish phone call from a weirdo asking him to play a game. The rules: if he fails to complete the tasks, interferes with the game, or blabs to anyone that he’s playing, he forfeits every last cent.
The game starts small. He kills a fly for $1,000. I, for one, would jump on that in a heartbeat. However, the tasks get more severe. Next, he needs to eat the fly for the payout to be wired to his bank account. Would I eat a fly for a few grand? Yes. But, if we get all philosophical, even killing a fly qualifies as a sin. Since it’s a vile insect, most of us wouldn’t thing twice. Of course, the challenges get more and more extreme. Along the way, Elliot commits several crimes with the promise that his record will be wiped clean if he wins the game. If not, he’s screwed! Great tension or conflict right there.
So, the question becomes: is wrongdoing okay if it’s off the grid? Elliot will have the rest of his life to consider if the ends justifies the means. This is especially true since the last crime he must commit is murder. Who he must kill and who else is competing against him to win the game gets revealed at the end—ergo the plot twist.
Now I’m going to get all literary. There is a decent character arc. In addition, Elliot is a metaphor for drug addiction. He actually grows his set of balls while playing the game—until he becomes addicted to the rush of it all and the new persona that he adopts. It’s not until things go horribly awry that he wakes up to the adverse effects on his life. Much like an addict lost in a haze, Elliot seems to lack character depth. And, the rest of the characters seem two dimensional. The movie isn’t without its flaws.
Odd factoid: this is a remake of a Thai horror comedy called 13 Beloved. You may be reminded of Saw, The Purge, or even The Hunger Games while eating your popcorn. Apparently, all of these films are tapping into something that fascinates us.