You know what Judge David Johnson thinks is positively sinful? Ice cream!
All Lilith ever wanted…belonged to someone else.
B-movie seductress Misty Mundae (Shadow: Dead Riot) stars in this small indie feature about a childless woman taking a flying leap off the deep end. Mundae plays Lilith, a woman with a traumatic past (at the hands of an abusive father) who is consumed with the need to have a child. Unfortunately, she and her husband Jim (Ronnie Kerr) suffer from some major sexual/biological dysfunctions, rendering the couple unable to reproduce.
Desperate appeals to the doctor offer nothing but dismay for Lilith and her unemployed husband does little to assuage her anxiety. Worse, the new couple next door is Jim and Lilith's antithesis: Aisha (Erika Smith) and her beau have plenty of money, engage in satisfying intercourse and are as fertile as the freshly plowed fields of Pennsylvania Dutch country. When Aisha tells Lilith she's pregnant, that's when the psychosis descends.
Now Lilith, overcome with intense envy, finds herself in the grasp of violent hallucinations and wanton female nudity. As Aisha's seed gestates, so does Lilith's craziness—and it will all lead to a violent conclusion.
Said conclusion is foreseeable, but it's no less shocking. Writer/director Ton Marsiglia has assembled a slick-looking film peppered with some unnerving imagery (like that finale), which eventually buckles under the weight of its glaring lack of story. The film clocks in at just over an hour (padded by a seven-minute end credits crawl), yet it still feels like it could have its runtime cut in half. Lilith goes insane with jealousy and her husband's a jackass and the next door neighbor is hot and pregnant; that's the storyline. Sinful even plays like a short film, with long periods of dialogue-free visuals, close-ups, confounding imagery and a minimalist soundtrack. This is a film that tells its story the best through its style, and dialogue did little to elicit an equivocal emotional reaction.
Mundae takes a departure from the usual sleaze and delivers a pretty impressive performance as a tortured woman. She's the brightest spot in the tiny cast, though no one is awful. Erika Smith is gorgeous, but her role is pretty much making googly eyes at Mundae's character and standing around naked and pregnant. Aisha is less a human character and more an object, something that Lilith desires to be, yet resents. That's pretty meaty stuff, but diluted because of the too-long runtime. It doesn't take long to get the point that Lilith and her childhood baggage has left a gaping hole within, something that she thinks can be filled with motherhood. With Aisha—and to an extent, Aisha's stable, healthy relationship with her significant other—Lilith sees what she perceives is the ideal, and will do anything she can to achieve that.
Though Mundae does the most heavy lifting, what makes Sinful click is the look of the film. Thankfully, Marsiglia employs a range of color tones to delineate between the separate parts of reality, without which would have made following the film's narrative a premium chore. It's still a bear to follow, and asks the viewer to invest some creative thinking into the story, but the director has a great eye and there are some truly top shelf scenes to be found. That makes the story (or dearth of story) easier on the eyes.
Speaking of easy on the eyes, while Mundae and Smith are both attractive and frequently disrobed, Sinful is not an erotic feature. There is maybe one scene that verges on the titillating, but aside from that, all the nudity is either sterile or creepy. Just a note for the flesh hounds that may be attracted to the film's title, actress and "strong sexual content" warning—look elsewhere.
Shot on film, Sinful is striking, boasting strong colors and a clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The 2.0 stereo is okay, though it gives a little too much play to the bordering-on-burdensome soundtrack. Of the few bonuses that accompany, the director's commentary and making-of documentary are the most insightful. Bringing up the rear is a short interview with Misty Mundae and Erika Smith's audition footage.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shock-O-Rama Cinema
• Director's Commentary
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