WRITERS: Francine Rivers (Novel), Brian Bird,
& Michael Landon, Jr. (Screenplay)
DIRECTOR: Michael Landon, Jr.
STARRING: Liana Liberato, Soren Fulton, Louise Fletcher, Henry Thomas
Reviewed by Todd Burgett
The Last Sin Eater is an engaging little movie with a truly redemptive story. Michael Landon, Jr. (director of Love Comes Softly and it’s three sequels, son of the late Michael Landon) directs a competent cast headlined by Henry Thomas (E.T.) and Louise Fletcher (Academy Award winning actress of The One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) and based on a novel by Francine Rivers (The Scarlet Thread and Redeeming Love).
Set in the Appalachian mountains in the 1830’s, The Last Sin Eater revolves around the story of a young girl, Cadi Forbes (played by newcomer Liano Liberato), who must face the guilt of feeling responsible for the death of her younger sister. Cadi lives with her family in a community of Welsh settlers and seeks to find relief from her guilt by consulting the community’s “sin eater.”
The “sin eater” is a designated member of their community who has been banished to the mountains and can only come out when summoned after a person’s death. At the funeral of the deceased, the “sin eater” must “eat” the deceased person’s sins and bare their guilt. Cadi seeks out the “sin eater” to take away her guilt while she is still alive, yet she finds no relief once he completes the ritual.
Cadi finds hope when a young itinerant preacher, played by Henry Thomas, shares with her that Jesus is the only “sin eater” she will ever need. Unfortunately, the presence of the preacher disrupts the settlers and through a series of circumstances many more dark secrets of the settlers are revealed. The story comes to an end when Cadi, along with the help of Miz Elda (played by Louise Fletcher), force the settlers to face their dark secrets.
Despite the low-rent special effects and sub-par acting by some of the actors, The Last Sin Eater is an enjoyable movie thanks to a strong story, beautiful cinematography, and interesting characters. It was also refreshing to see a bold Gospel presentation that was neither forced nor awkward, but tantamount to the story. The Last Sin Eater is a truly redemptive movie that families will not only find entertaining, but also as a great springboard for discussing the Gospel (note: there are some scary moments and thematic elements that may not be suitable for the littlest members of the family). – Todd Burgett
You can find a discussion guide created by FoxFaith Movies online.
View a clip here.