Children of Sin, 2022.
Directed by Christopher Wesley Moore.
Starring Meredith Mohler, Lewis Hines, Cami Roebuck, Jo-Ann Robinson, Ana-Clare Henley, Jacob Thomas, Keni Bounds, Jeff Buchwald, and Faith Stanley.
After being sent to a sinister religious retreat by their stepfather, two siblings fight to escape in order to save their mother from harm’s way.
Religious horror: We genuinely don’t have enough of it; well, in cinema…there’s enough in real life. I knew by the title that Children of Sin would dive into religion and its grip over families, but I never expected such a detailed and harrowing look at its effects.
Yes, Children of Sin has all the makings of a typical low-budget indie horror: cheesy acting, plenty of blood, and some WTF moments. But what took me by surprise was the earnestness of the film. Director Christopher Wesley Moore showcases an ability to transform his material and elevate it beyond a traditional horror and hit hard. With all the things surrounding it, the story at the center of Children of Sin is compelling and keeps you hooked.
You feel the anger coming off the screen; you can tell there are years of resentment being worked out through the runtime. That passion and background are why Children of Sin is a must-see indie horror.
The film follows Emma and Jackson, two young kids sent away to what is a conversion therapy camp. Their mega-religious and creepy step-father send them someone they see who turns their mother into a shell of her former self. Sadly, they can’t focus on the insanity of home as they face the evil that is Mary Esther. Mary runs the Christian brainwashing school with an iron fist, and the story only gets more twisted..
We see how profoundly disturbed Mary Ester is, where the film shines. She somehow keeps up with her real-life evil counterparts, especially when the movie unveils her twisted conversion method. Mary Ester may not be a traditional slasher villain like Freddy or Jason, but she’s just as scary as anyone masked madman. Actress Jo-Ann Robinson eats the role up, making you love watching this disgusting villain.
Speaking of the acting in the film, Meredith Mohler and Lewis Hines are impressive when handling the weight of their roles. Not only are they dealing with a heavy tone, but their characters are both incredibly layered. Mohler’s Emma is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, and Hines’ Jackson is struggling with his sexuality; these stories are primed for great material, and Christopher Wesley Moore doesn’t let us down. The filmmaker knows the importance of these stories and makes sure to showcase them without letting go of the horror.
In a lower-budgeted horror film, the acting is crucial to making it work, and it’s a pleasure that the talent involved was up to that task. When the story falters, or the cinematography feels a bit flat, you can be assured that the actors and director can move past that and still deliver solid work.
One of the biggest compliments I can give Children of Sin is that it makes me want to see more from everyone involved. While not a perfect, top-tier horror entry, you can see so much at play here. Director Christopher Wesley Moore is incredibly skilled, and this movie feels like a demo reel of what he could do with more money and a more robust script. Even the actors like Meredith Mohler, Lewis Hines, and Jo-Ann Robinson need more work following this.
Horror is at its best when it’s hitting you hard, emotionally, and with the scares. Children of Sin smashes into you, runs you over, and backs up on you so you can feel the pain. This is a movie filled with a lot of baggage, and sometimes that makes for the best viewing. You know you got a solid movie happening when you can feel the pain coming off the screen.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★