[Panic Fest 2024] ‘Curse Of The Sin Eater’ Is A Haunting Take on the Morality of Wealth

Credit: Feared Features

There’s been a movement in horror lately that really leans in on the fact that rich people are the absolute worst, but what often gets left out of the narrative is no matter how sure we are that they are awful – we still kind of want to be rich people. It’s easy to play the lottery or watch game shows and wonder what you might do with a sudden influx of cash, but what would you really agree to do if the offer of wealth beyond your wildest dreams was offered to you? ‘Curse of the Sin Eater’ poses exactly this question to the viewer. How far will one desperate person go to change their life, and how long can they put up with the demons of their new life?

Rick (Carter Shimp) is a struggling construction worker, living on his friends couch and always on the edge of total collapse. While working an outside job at an opulent mansion he pops inside for a quick sec and is tempted by the lavish lifestyle he finds within. When he encounters the mansion’s owner, the terminally ill George Drayton (Larry Yando) he finds himself in an “offer you can’t refuse” kind of situation. Drayton offers Rick his entire fortune…with one little catch, Rick must eat a meal off of Drayton’s body immediately after he passes away.

This is where, in my opinion, Rick does not ask enough questions. Honestly he doesn’t ask many at all! In addition to “why would you want me to do this weird thing” I would have some follow up questions like “how big does the meal need to be” and “can you accommodate my dietary restrictions” but I’m not quite the risk taker that Rick is. After a bit of thought he takes the offer and before long must complete the task. Once done, Rick finds out that he has consumed more than just a rich and expensive multiple course meal, he has now also inherited all of the sins and crimes of his wealthy benefactor. Rick really should have read the fine print on this one. As he now attempts to enjoy a life of luxury he is tormented by terrifying visions of those who were victimized by his predecessor.

We are told within the context of the film that “sin eating” is a practice that dates back centuries in which the wealthy believe they can be absolved of their sins and go to heaven freely if they pass those sins on, along with a hefty reward, to those desperate enough to take on such a task. While the “be careful what you wish for” trope isn’t new, this is an interesting take on it and I found the lore intriguing. In his first feature director Justin Denton creates layers within the worlds that collide for Rick without losing the viewer in the complexities. Shimp does a great job portraying the desperation and confusion that Rick cycles through as the terror in his life switches from financial despair to grim nightly visits from victims of sins he has no knowledge of. We are also treated to a standout performance from Elizabeth Laidlaw as Antoinette, the head of Drayton’s household staff who serves as a guide for Rick in all the aspects of his new life.

For me there were a couple of spots where the story didn’t quite come together and the resolution got a bit convoluted but the uniqueness of the concept makes up for those missteps. While not all of the effects were as successful as they could have been, they were no doubt more successful than they should have been on a small budget film. They serve as an excellent indication of what Denton might be capable of with a larger budget as his disposal. This is an exceptional first feature that should have no trouble finding an audience among fans of haunting morality tales.

[Panic Fest 2024] ‘Curse Of The Sin Eater’ Is A Haunting Take on the Morality of Wealth