When his mentor Father Dominic dies suddenly, Alex travels
to Rome to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.
He discovers that the man killed himself after being given
absolution by a sin eater, thought not to have existed for
200 years. The guilt is transferred to the sin eater, leaving
the dying person's soul clean but damning his own. Alex and
an old friend find ancient instructions on how to kill a sin
eater, but they are incomplete. Enter the cardinal, prime
candidate for the next pope, who gives them an ornamental
knife from the vaults of the Vatican. William Eden, the sin
eater, seeks out Alex at St Peters in Rome; however, the young
priest cannot find it in himself to kill the man. Eden explains
to Alex that there is nothing inherently evil about a sin
eater. He shows the young priest how the process works, but
describes himself as an embarrassment to the church. Eden
tricks Alex into using the sin eater process to save a loved
one. Alex finally uses the knife on Alex, but the sin eater's
death produces unexpected results...
the emergence of quality films such as The Exorcist
and The Omen, which used religious characters to tackle
the essence of good and evil, we have had a steady trickle
of titles with similar themes. The Sin Eater is a movie
which you can comfortably watch and forget all about afterward.
In other words, it leaves very little lasting impression.
Although enjoyable in its own way, there doesn't seem to be
a revelation-inspired progression of events. Instead the plot
just seems to trundle along at the same pace with hardly an
altered facial expression or show of emotion.
fact, through their eyes you could read the thoughts of the
dying characters, which all seemed to say, "Let's get this
over with, so I can grab my pay cheque and go home for tea."
You just wanted to grab half the actors and shake them into
One scene which stands out is when Alex and his old friend
enter guarded caverns within the city, to question a man on
the gallows at the instruction of a hooded leader of a coven.
They barely escape with their lives from killer brethren,
near-drowning and (the old favourite) temptation of faith.
extras of only deleted scenes and a commentary by director
Brian Helgeland, who doesn't even sound enthusiastic about
his own film, this is a disappointing release. My final thought
was, this could have been so much better.
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