Young Samantha Walker has been tortured by nightmarish visions for years. With the help of Dr. Hoffman, she faces her unknown past by taking his advice and traveling to Germany where she begins to seek out the true roots of her ancestral past. Her journey leads to a former German convent and after she breaks in to the convent at night her life becomes a horrible struggle as a masked monk starts the merciless killings of her companions one after another. Finally the secret of her past reveals itself and she has to face – the Sin Reaper.
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat, I firmly believe that Lance Henriksen is one of the best character actors in the business and I don’t think it’s any stretch to say that he’s also one of the elder statesmen of the horror genre. His deep, sonorous voice is still a force to be reckoned with and seeing him in any film instantly gives that film, no matter how awful it might be, a serious touch of class. But seeing him appear in two scenes (It might have been three, I’ve already forgotten) in director Sebastian Bartolitius’s “SIN REAPER” isn’t doing him any great favors and he certainly doesn’t help to make the film any better since his scenes are basically throw away’s that look like they were filmed in someone’s apartment in an hour, maybe two.
The script (written by Matthias Haag & Manuel Johnen) tells the story of Samantha Walker (Helen Mutch), who has lived much of her adult life experiencing horrible dreams that usually end up with her on the receiving end of a strange looking four sided ax that’s wielded by an even stranger looking hooded assailant, this is where Dr. Hoffman (Henriksen) comes into the picture. During one of their sessions he notices a picture that Samantha has drawn of the location in her nightmares and he manages to connect it with an actual place in Germany, a former German monastery called Wallenhausen. As a child adopted by American parents, she decides to travel to Germany and find out exactly who her birth parents were and where she’s from. By finding the answers to these questions she hopes to find some common thread that links her persistent nightmares to her lineage and maybe finding out a way to stop them as well.
Once she arrives in Germany we get introduced to the rest of the (underwhelming) cast of mostly German actors, some of whom seem to be reciting their lines phonetically with little to intonation to their line readings making whatever they say sound like they’re reciting lines from an English as a 2nd language textbook. There’s an Asian actress featured here (Hazuki Kato) who speaks perfect English but might have the annoying voice I’ve ever heard come out of an actresses mouth ever. A lot of the tepid dialog here is made that much more unimpressive by actors who don’t speak English as their natural language or actors that do and sound lousy speaking it. Henriksen and Mutch do the best that they can but they only have a few scenes together and despite giving it their all, it isn’t enough to lift the film up to anything worth watching.
As I watched “SIN REAPER” I was reminded of the German “KRIMIS” films that found some measure of popularity from 1959-1972. They were mostly based on novels by British novelist Edgar Wallace and many of them featured Klaus Kinski, usually as the heavy or the red herring that you just couldn’t ignore. “SIN REAPER” has that kind of feel and that works in it’s favor. It also has an interesting look that reminded me of Stuart Gordon’s “CASTLE FREAK” with the interior shots of the monastery closely resembling the castle interiors of Gordon’s film. “SIN REAPER” was filmed in 3D and although it’s been released to home video in a standard format I could see that there was some care taken in framing certain shots to take advantage of the 3D process originally used. But some piss poor lighting and unexpected zoom shots that come out of nowhere were extremely distressing to this saint’s wizened old eyes.
The titular villain has an interesting look and a very intimidating weapon that makes a satisfying thud whenever he embeds it into someone’s head but the fight choreography is clunky and oddly disengaging. It looks as if all of it was put together as an afterthought, like none of us would notice that nobody seems to know what they’re doing while they’re haplessly flailing away at each other. The bloodshed on display is decent enough but I would’ve enjoyed a bit more carnage especially considering the visual heft the weapon in use has.
The twists in the script are telegraphed way in advance and the script isn’t anywhere as smart as it thinks it is which makes the goings on even more rote. This is director Bartolitius’ first film and he does a decent enough job of moving the proceedings along when he can but the script foils most every attempt to get things rolling since it’s going in the opposite direction so his efforts fail for the most part. I think it’s shameful that Henriksen’s name is displayed over the title so prominently since he’s in the film for about 10 minutes total time and if you pick this up expecting to see him then you’re gonna be disappointed as well. In the end “SIN REAPER” reaps exactly what it sows and that’s the enmity of everyone who spends any money watching it.
“Sin Reaper” – 0.5 out of 5 shrouds.
Sin Reaper (2012)