At a time when Christian filmmakers are eager to prove that they can make movies that are just as generic and formulaic as anything Hollywood puts out—Christian political thrillers, Christian serial-killer mysteries, Christian romantic comedies, and the like—there is something to be said for a movie like The Last Sin Eater, which doesn't even try to follow any secular trends. The FoxFaith film, which concerns an obscure quasi-religious ritual that was practiced by some Britons and emigrants from Britain as recently as the 19th century, also puts spiritual concerns front-and-center, instead of trying to smuggle them in through the back door.
So if the characters get a little preachy at times, as people in Christian movies are wont to do … well, at least it fits this story in a more organic sort of way.
The film takes place in the Appalachian mountains circa 1850, and the title refers to a custom that the characters have brought with them from their native Wales, in which a man—usually a beggar or some similar social outcast—supposedly takes the sins of the newly deceased upon himself in exchange for food and drink. Because sin eaters are thought to have the sins of many people weighing on their souls, they are shunned by their communities, except when someone dies and their services are required—and even then, to look a sin eater in the eye is to invite a curse.
Of course, if you tell someone not to do something, the odds are pretty good that he or she might do it—especially if that person is a child. And so it is that a young girl named Cadi Forbes (Liana Liberato) attends the funeral of her grandmother and looks a particular Sin Eater (Peter Wingfield) right in the eye, while all ...