Directed by: #RichMallery
Written by: #RichMallery
Psychological thriller Sinful is the second feature film from writer-director Rich Mallery. Any movie set in one location usually promises something of interest, as directors are forced to be more creative with the limited space around them. Despite an intriguing opening and surreal finale though, the film proves to be a dreary endeavour with an overly-long runtime being filled with a whole load of nothing.
Set entirely in one suburban home, the film follows newlyweds Salem (Nicole D’Angelo) and Remy (Christina Lo) who are in hiding after committing a heinous crime. The habitual drug users fall into a state of paranoia as they impatiently wait for Salem’s friend, Tyler, to show up with their new identities. However, as their time in the house drags on, the strain between the couple intensifies as they are threatened by the sudden appearance of a mysterious masked man (Chris Spinelli).
Sinful is undoubtedly a great-looking movie. Cinematographer Gregory Hatanaka sets the tone by switching between cold and warm lighting, although the sometimes jarring shift between these two moods can be disorienting. Mallery too proves himself to be a competent director, rarely repeating himself visually in what is a restrictive location. The director manages to make the house feel more claustrophobic as the film goes on, giving the impression that the walls are closing in around our two leads.
Worthy of praise also are the performances from Christina Lo and Nicole D’Angelo. The two take up the vast majority of screen time, and, although having little to work with, the actors do their best to put in convincing performances. While it’s difficult at times to really buy into their relationship, this is more an issue with the script than the couple’s on-screen chemistry.
Unfortunately, that’s as far as it goes for Sinful in terms of positives, as the rest of the film offers precious little in terms of an engaging or eventful narrative. The interesting concept for the plot is squandered by the severely stretched runtime. There are long periods where nothing of note is happening, with even the few moments of conflict feeling repetitive after a while. As such, it becomes impossible to get swept up in the couple’s troublesome situation, as the film lacks any real intensity; despite how much the overbearing soundtrack may try to inform each scene.
This dull turn in the narrative is unfortunate, as the movie’s opening and finale offer so much more in terms of interesting visuals and plot developments. During its climax, the film incorporates some surreal aspects, allowing for a handful of more visually engaging sequences that take the narrative in a more nightmarish direction. However, these elements are brought into play far too late, as, at this point, you’ve all but lost interest in the couple and their plight.
Even when the plot feels as though it’s developing in some meaningful way, we’re either greeted with the dreaded ‘it was just a dream’ reveal or sudden tonal shifts that are confusing and contradict the established mood. Paranoid meltdowns, for example, are frequently halted by a quick sex break in the opening act of the film, leaving you unsure of how seriously to take either of the women’s concerns.
A confused, meandering and detached narrative mean that, for as great asSinfullooks, it’s not half as entertaining as it could be. Although the performances and some later plot developments are enjoyable, you can’t help but feel that Rich Mallery’s feature would have fared better as a short, as in its current form it’s stretched far too thin.