Writer-director Rich Mallery’s Sinful starts with newly married Remy (Christina Lo) and Salem (Nicole D’Angelo) committing an unspeakable act. The couple takes refuge in an unfamiliar house, as their sinful act fills them with regret. The further removed they are from the crime, the more it haunts them, as an unknown darkness inches ever closer, to make them pay for what they have done.
Sinful begins with dark images of individuals being tortured and brutally murdered, allowing audiences to understand how intense the rest of the film would be. Mallery warns viewers of what is to come and prepares them for more intense scenes as the film progresses. Mallery’s tone-setting appearance, gives audiences expectations of more twisted and savage imagery, only to be let down. The opening sequence goes so over the top that it becomes hard for the rest of the film to live up to the hype.
After the opening credits, Sinful becomes difficult to watch, as it remains, well, tame is not the right word exactly, but it’s certainly not vicious. I struggled to appreciate much of what Mallery attempts, as the expectations he foreshadowed crumble. As the story drags slowly toward the finish line, all parties watching drift further from caring about the story or its characters. Mallery, and the rest of the crew, needed to find a way to ensure that audiences find a reason to focus and root for the married couple. His attempts at this fall short, as any hope viewers had for Sinful evaporate before it’s been on for 30-minutes.
“…an unknown darkness inches ever closer, to make them pay for what they have done.”
Mallery regularly hyper-sexualizes both Remy and Salem. He seems to make it a point to have the camera focus on their breasts or other sexual regions. The only thought that comes to mind is that in a desperate bid to keep audiences engaged, he uses the women as objects. Surely sexualizing attractive women in your film appeals to a certain group, but for the rest of the world, using this technique is more of a turn off than anything else. Focusing on the women in this way takes away from the intended story and diminishes Mallery’s ability to helm a compelling narrative. The further viewers get into Sinful, the more they see of this over-sexualization of the two main characters, pulling them further away from the actual plot and making it even more difficult to appreciate the story being told.
Mallery attempts to create a horror-thriller that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. He, instead, creates a film that has audiences begging for it to end. Sinful struggles to keep anyone engaged as it plods along and all expectations are destroyed in the early going. The movie fails to develop characters in the slightest and makes it even more difficult for viewers to appreciate what is happening.
If Mallery could have given audiences something to hold on to, like an enjoyable character, a definitive understanding of the plot, or engaging dialogue, the film may have been successful. With every one of these aspects missing, Sinful is sinfully dull and unappealing, leaving audiences begging for mercy, which it grants by ending.
"…sinfully dull and unappealing…"