Studio: Fangoria Presents
Director: Sebastian Bartolitius
Writer: Matthias Haag, Nico Sentner, Manuel Johnen
Producer: Matthias Haag, Nico Sentner
Stars: Helen Mutch, Lance Henriksen, Hazuki Kato, Patrick J. Thomas, Paulina Bachmann, Wolfgang Riehm
Mysterious dreams lead a woman to a German monastery where she uncovers a connection in her past linking to a deadly assassin from the Crusades.
Since the inclusion of his name is intended to draw viewers to the film, and since his appearance alone is a primary interest for many genre fans, it should be the first thing discussed about “Sin Reaper.” Lance Henriksen may share top billing above the title with actress Helen Mutch, but he is not an equal co-star in the film. His role is the least critical to the plotline with respect to the major speaking parts and he shares his few minutes of screen time with only one actress. Anyone jonesing for a Henriksen fix would see their time better spent on “It’s in the Blood” instead (review here).
Henriksen plays therapist Dr. Hoffman to Helen Mutch’s Samantha. Sam is beset by nightmares involving a crumbling monastery and a hooded assassin who stalks men and women of the cloth using a relic from the Crusades. Of course, in movies of this nature, such haunting visions are never really just dreams. When Dr. Hoffman connects a drawing Samantha made from one of her night terrors with an actual location in Germany, he sends the beleaguered woman there in search of the source for her nightmares. What she discovers is that the monastery connects her with the masked assassin from her dreams.
Samantha is the main focus and her journeys through Germany are the crux of the story. Henriksen’s part is the catalyst for putting her there and his scenes serve as bookends to the greater narrative. Expecting to see anything revelatory from his character would be ill advised, as he has little to do except speak in lines that spark expository dialogue from Sam.
Casting a notable personality like Henriksen is nothing new for the genre. The greater problem “Sin Reaper” has with putting a veteran actor onscreen is that he highlights how unequal the other performances are. English is a second language for some in the multi-cultural cast, and it shows. Several lines are unintentionally hilarious in their poor delivery from a nondescript roster of supporting characters. Writing a new page in the book of “things never seen before in a horror movie,” one character actually stops a girl from having sex with him in the haunted monastery because he deems the locale to be too creepy. Then he ruins the moment by explaining that this is really because he wants the act shared between them “to be special.”
It might be due largely to the European setting, but “Sin Reaper” is missing only a full frame aspect ratio and a Richard Band music score to complete its look of a 1990’s Full Moon production. Unfortunately, that statement is not made with the same affection normally reserved for the films of Full Moon’s heyday. In contemporary times, the jarring zoom shots and strange use of handheld furthers the out-of-place and out-of-time presentation. However, the cinematography and the nature of the screenplay do root the film in a 1990’s style for the genre, which might be a small plus for those looking for a slightly retro feel.
The monastery itself would make Dr. Frankenstein proud, and the German scenery successfully creates much of the atmosphere. This is also aided by an equally interesting visual for the killer. A black monk’s robe cloaking an iron-masked figure wielding a cross-like blade makes for a formidable presence. Though it is undone by a physical embodiment that cuts off the Sin Reaper at his knees. Whenever action occurs in the film, whether it is falling, jumping, or fighting, it is staged like a theater play. The action never feels anything other than fake, which only lessens any impact from the kills and the violence.
For a screenplay with three writers, it is odd that the story is so boilerplate. The audience is consistently ahead of the characters onscreen and Samuel Morse himself could not do a better job of telegraphing all of the plot turns. The film takes place in a suitably gloomy setting, and the touch of Christian mythology adds some interest. But underachieving acting, underwhelming physical action, and a predictable tale bury “Sin Reaper” in its own grave.
Review Score: 40