‘The Sinners’ is a Coming of Age Tale Soaked in Sin

A still from 'The Sinners'. A group of teenage girls are shot looking in the boot of a car, the camera being placed inside the boot. 5 girls are standing in the background and open opening the boot. All girls are wearing black clothing and wearing animal masks to cover their faces. In the blurred foreground is a human figure; this is presumably a kidnapping.
Signature Entertainment

“My name is Aubrey Miller, and this is how my body ended up at the bottom of a lake.” The Sinners opening scene commences in imperturbable style, as Aubrey (Brenna Llewellyn) narrates across shots of a cool blue lake. Directed and written by Courtney Paige, this directorial debut is built upon the long list of dead girls that came before Aubrey Miller.

Aubrey and her gang of gal pals —led by alpha bitch Grace (Kaitlyn Bernard) and her secret lover Tori (Brenna Coates)— are the talk of their heavily religious town. The girls embody the seven deadly sins, a casual rumour started at school, which naturally stuck around long enough to cause some chaos. Aubrey introduces the girls and their most loveable traits. Katie is known for getting whatever she wants from her parents, so is naturally branded as greed. Tori, known for her temper, is wrath. Molly, a compulsive eater, is gluttony. Robin, athletic yet lazy, is sloth. Stacey, an insatiable student, is known as envy. Grace, a secret lesbian with a boyfriend, known as lust —

“My name is Aubrey Miller, and this is how my body ended up at the bottom of a lake.” The Sinners opening scene commences in imperturbable style, as Aubrey (Brenna Llewellyn) narrates across shots of a cool blue lake. Directed and written by Courtney Paige, this directorial debut is built upon the long list of dead girls that came before Aubrey Miller.

Aubrey and her gang of gal pals – led by alpha bitch Grace (Kaitlyn Bernard) and her secret lover Tori (Brenna Coates), are the talk of their heavily religious town. The girls embody the seven deadly sins, a casual rumour started at school, which naturally stuck around long enough to cause some chaos. Aubrey introduces the girls and their most loveable traits. Katie is known for getting whatever she wants from her parents, so is naturally branded as greed.  Tori, known for her temper, is wrath. Molly, a compulsive eater, is gluttony. Robin, athletic yet lazy, is sloth. Stacey, an insatiable student, is known as envy. Grace, a secret lesbian with a boyfriend, known as lust – an undeserving title even by Aubrey’s standards. And finally, the dead girl herself, Aubrey. Intensely proud, wholesome and self-righteous, she is known as pride – something she proclaims shouldn’t even be a sin. It is thought that pride is the worst sin of all, encompassing all the other sins in harmony between holy hypocrisy and ruthless self-preservation. Unsurprisingly, it is Aubrey that starts the inevitable corruption of the group.

Grace, daughter of the town’s pastor, discovers a rat amongst the girls – one of them has confessed their sins to her farther, detailing almost every way the girls personify their cruel and callous nicknames. One of the Sins swipes Aubrey’s journal, only to discover inside its riddled with the town’s deepest immoral acts, including their own. What unfolds is

“My name is Aubrey Miller, and this is how my body ended up at the bottom of a lake.” The Sinners opening scene commences in imperturbable style, as Aubrey (Brenna Llewellyn) narrates across shots of a cool blue lake. Directed and written by Courtney Paige, this directorial debut is built upon the long list of dead girls that came before Aubrey Miller.

Aubrey and her gang of gal pals – led by alpha bitch Grace (Kaitlyn Bernard) and her secret lover Tori (Brenna Coates), are the talk of their heavily religious town. The girls embody the seven deadly sins, a casual rumour started at school, which naturally stuck around long enough to cause some chaos. Aubrey introduces the girls and their most loveable traits. Katie is known for getting whatever she wants from her parents, so is naturally branded as greed.  Tori, known for her temper, is wrath. Molly, a compulsive eater, is gluttony. Robin, athletic yet lazy, is sloth. Stacey, an insatiable student, is known as envy. Grace, a secret lesbian with a boyfriend, known as lust —an undeserving title even by Aubrey’s standards. And finally, the dead girl herself, Aubrey. Intensely proud, wholesome and self-righteous, she is known as pride, something she proclaims shouldn’t even be a sin. It is thought that pride is the worst sin of all, encompassing all the other sins in harmony between holy hypocrisy and ruthless self-preservation. Unsurprisingly, it is Aubrey that starts the inevitable corruption of the group.

Grace, daughter of the town’s pastor, discovers a rat amongst the girls, one of them has confessed their sins to her father, detailing almost every way the girls personify their cruel and callous nicknames. One of the Sins swipes Aubrey’s journal, only to discover inside its riddled with the town’s deepest immoral acts, including their own. What unfolds is nothing short of twisted, as revenge weaves itself throughout this sinful story.

A scene from 'The Sinners'. A group of 7 teenage girls are sat in an attic bedroom in a circle, holding hands and chanting. The image is shot from the top of the room, a crucifix just visible in the top left corrner. The room is filled with twee paraphanelia such as a cot, viking horns, a bird cage and piles of blankets. The walls are largely wooden giving the house and old style feel.
Signature Entertainment

The Sinners tries hard to play on both aspects of its mystery-horror set up, crafting tension and atmosphere in the first act as the girls enact revenge on their fellow sin Aubrey in the form of devil chants and an eventual kidnapping.  

The girls and their sinful design are by far the most interesting aspect of the whole feature, which makes it even more disappointing when the film wastes copious amounts of time developing the Sherriff’s storyline, rather than expanding on the girls and their relationships with each other.

Although it rarely establishes the emotional depth and seriousness it attempts to convey, The Sinners beckons with potential. Despite its flaws, Grace and her gang provide a cool charm to the otherwise clunky writing. Barely any of the characters possess any redeeming qualities, as the narrative lingers in the bitchy back and forth of high school girls. This is where the film works best, as the adolescent angst pokes holes in the otherwise generic religious set-up.

The final execution of this crime-occult coming of age tale lands it somewhere between The Virgin Suicides, Heathers and The Craft. Overall, The Sinners is enjoyable and unpredictable at times. It relishes in its own immaturity and drama, paying homage to many teen classics that came before.

The Sinners (fka The Color Rose) is available on VOD in the UK from January 18th

by Kelsie Dickinson

Kelsie (she/her) is a super gay masters student at The University of Glasgow. She loves slashers, but hates capitalism. Her favourite films are It Follows, Midsommar, Lost In Translation and Ghost World. Find her on Twitter.

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