The Last Sin Eater
Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
Better than Average
Drama, Religion, Historical, Adaptation
Year of Release:
February 9, 2007
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“A little girl’s quest for redemption uncovers a dark secret… and the truth shall set her free.”
Michael Landon, the famed Jewish-Christian actor, died young, leaving behind a legacy of family TV. However, a man’s legacy is often determined not only by the material things he leaves behind but by the quality and character of the family he leaves behind.
Michael Landon Jr. has teamed up with Fox Faith films to bring “The Last Sin Eater” to the screen. The story is a take on the old pagan Celtic belief wherein a man takes the sins of the dead upon his own flesh during a ritual eating over the flesh of the deceased. Even after Wales became nominally Christian, the Welsh often incorporated the Sin Eater into their theology, creating a bizarre mixture of Christianity and paganism. In this film, a small Welsh-American community carries on that tradition, but a young girl, who is haunted by the death of her younger sister, becomes obsessed with having her sins removed. As a result she embarks, against the wishes of her family, on a quest to find the Sin Eater and have her sins removed.
Obviously, the movie offers a perfect chance to set the gospel against a pagan backdrop. The movie is itself filled with double entendres, including a reference to Caiaphas' accidental prophecy, 'it is better for one man to die than for many to suffer.' Unlike many Christian films of late, “The Last Sin Eater” is not afraid to preach the gospel. Now perhaps I have been sullied by years of movies which seemed afraid to even mention the name of Jesus (the movie “End of the Spear” is an example of a Christian film which lacks the name of the Lord), and some might say that “The Last Sin Eater” only briefly presents the gospel, but the gospel is there and lays underneath the entire plot.
Morally, there is some violence, including death, semi-rotting bodies, bones, a grisly image of a deformed and bloody face, some semi-brutal beatings (but not by today’s standards), and the slaughter of an Indian village is seen, but without blood shown. There is no language and no sex.
Cinematically, the movie is a promising start for Michael Landon Jr. There could be a few criticisms, but as he continues his career, I am sure his directing will become more polished. One problem was the depiction of the preacher. It seemed as if Landon was trying to make the preacher seem more of a prophet than a preacher. As a result, he seemed to lack the truly human feel. Even when he wasn’t preaching, he seemed to talk like a prophet of old. I felt that the preacher would actually have been more effective if he had been a little more human with more realistic dialogue. Another minor criticism includes the obvious special effects flaws at the log bridge. Despite this, and a few glitches along the way, Landon shows great promise in his directorial debut, and the film promises to elevate the sad state in which Christian films have too long been mired.
Ultimately, the film succeeds because it is told through the eyes of a child. The young heroine seeks out the Sin Eater that others live in fear of. It is the innocence of this child, obsessed with her sins, which makes the film believable. If the truth be told, I enjoyed the movie much more than I was anticipating. If you like drama, you will surely like “The Last Sin Eater.” It has elements of a horror film, but plays like a drama amid the backdrop of the Wild West and, more importantly, the gospel. Michael Landon would be proud.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “When a mysterious man ‘absolves’ her grandmother’s sins by eating bread and wine at her grave, 10-year-old Cadi wants the same redemption—while she’s still alive! But in her quest for deliverance she uncovers a dark secret that threatens to divide her family. What will happen when the two face each other—and the One who can truly save them?
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