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The Order (2003)

The Sin Eater (UK, DE)

Every soul has its price

Directed by:

Brian Helgeland

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 102 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

If Heath Ledger displays one predominant skill in ‘The Sin Eater’, it’s his ability to look upon supposedly terrifying sights with complete and utter indifference. As lead character Alex Bernier, he gets to see two small children dissolve into a flock of budgies, his best pal (Mark Addy) impaled by spikes flying from God knows where, and an immortal German (Benno Furmann) physically extracting sins from the body of a dying man. All are greeted with the same blank, emotionless stare. The man is a genius, I tells ya.

‘The Sin Eater’, as you might have guessed, is a stupid film. It’s about a couple of priests (Ledger and Addy) who are given permission by wannabe-Pope Driscoll (Peter ‘Robocop’ Weller) to track down and kill a bloke who’s going about nicking people’s sins. Suffice to say, if making really crappy horror films was considered a sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church, our sin eater could look upon writer-director Brian Helgeland as the religious equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet.

What’s really incredible here is that Helgeland also wrote the screenplay for the majestic double Oscar-winner Mystic River. Incredible because, while ‘River’ positively thundered with gritty but watchable realism, ‘The Sin Eater’ never falls shy of the ridiculous in its attempts to scare. Part of the problem is that the shocks, when they come, are so graphic and in-your-face that they lose all impact. Then, at the complete opposite end of the subtlety scale, you have Ledger, so unshaken by everything going on around him that you suspect he may well have been replaced midway through filming by a cardboard cut-out. Now that’s talent!

It's Got: To tell us where Ledger underwent his facial expression bypass operation, and whether you can get one on the NHS.

It Needs: Not to be confused with 80s pop songstress Sinita.

DVD Extras Director’s commentary (which, unfortunately isn’t simply 100 minutes of Helgeland repeatedly mumbling “oh my God, what was I thinking?”), and some deleted scenes with optional voice-over. DVD Extras Rating: 3/10

Alternatives:

Stigmata, The Devil Rides Out

Summary

Makes going to church seem like fun.

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