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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Game of Horror
by Betty Jo Tucker

Beware of any phone call congratulating you for being selected as a contestant in a game show! You might end up like the main character in 13 Sins, an intense horror thriller directed by Daniel Stamm. Elliot, played by Mark Webber, agrees to play the game. And why not? All he has to do is complete certain actions within a time limit -- and money appears in his bank account.

The actions are simple at first. Swat a fly, for example. And the call comes at a time in Elliotís life when he needs money desperately. Heís just been fired from his job, and his fiancťe wants to have an expensive wedding. Plus, the medical insurance for his mentally-challenged brother is no longer paying claims. Winning the game could solve all of Elliotís problems, or so he believes.   

Of course, the actions required in this increasingly appalling game become progressively more distasteful and violent as the payoffs get more lucrative. By the time Elliot wants out, heís committed crimes he could go to jail for, and if he quits, he will be prosecuted -- but if he continues, the evidence will disappear. Elliot faces a hair-raising dilemma. And you think youíve got problems.  

Casting Webber (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) in the lead role served 13 Sins well. Much like Pat Healy in Cheap Thrills, heís totally convincing as an ordinary guy who loses rational perspective while trying to avoid financial disaster. Other cast members provide strong support. Stand-outs include lovely Rutina Wesley (TVís True Blood) as Elliotís stunned bride to be, Tom Bower (Appaloosa) as his aggravating father, Devon Graye (Husk) as his Rainman-like sibling, and Ron Perlman (Hellboy) as a detective who may or may not have an agenda of his own.

Cinematography, editing, and background music appear first rate in this remake of a Thai horror movie. 13 Sins also includes some clever humor and a few disturbing -- but intriguing -- surprises. Filmmaker Stamm, who co-wrote the screenplay with David Birke, definitely knows how to build suspense. He already proved that with The Last Exorcism and A Necessary Death. But in 13 Sins, Stamm begins the thrills early on with one of the most shocking opening scenes Iíve ever seen -- and it comes BEFORE the opening credits!

As the movie progresses, it grows more and more bloody and intense, which should appeal to most horror fans. In fact, I had to close my eyes during some sequences. According to my husband, thatís the sign of an excellent horror flick.

(Released by Radius-TWC and rated ďRĒ for violence, bloody images and language.)

For more information about 13 Sins, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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