Sin-Jin Smyth Review (Rough Cut)

Cover art Country : USA
Year: 2006
Genre: Horror / Action
Format: Rough Cut Screening
Running Time: n/a
Distributor: tba

So we are in the Warner Brothers Studio Lot in L.A. to see a rough cut of Sin-Jin Smyth, no less with Ethan, John Philbin, Gary Kasper, Eileen Dietz & editor Travis Dultz all sitting in on the screening... & the movie was great too. Nice.

Written & directed by Ethan Dettenmaier, starring Richard Tyson, Roddy Piper, Eileen Dietz, John Philbin, Gary Kasper, Charles Cyphers, Jenna Jameson & Jonathan Davis.

The Pit was given a rare opportunity last week. We were able to view a rough cut of the upcoming film "Sin-Jin Smyth" and let me tell you, this movie (even in rough cut form) will kick your teeth in. Sin-Jin Smyth is one of those happy surprises that sometimes bubble forth from the depths of low-budget filmmaking. Ethan Dettenmaier has it all in this film... character, plotting, suspense, and structure, as well as some disturbing, original images and the obsessional drive necessary to bring them to life on film.

Among the memorable images in "Sin-Jin Smyth" are a vast graveyard in Kansas, with supernatural precision, Dettenmaier knows what is scary and what is not. There's also a great deal that's more graphic (in your head) than gory, which means that non-fans of the genre can play as well.

Dettenmaier links his images with only the vaguest and coolest of story lines: Every Halloween at Midnight, The Devil simultaneously appears in two places… the high plains of India and… a quiet cemetery in Kansas. The film is about two federal marshals, who man an isolated Federal Outpost in the American Midwest, who receive an emergency message one night to blitz across the border into the Kansas Badlands for the midnight prisoner transfer of man with no identity. The two federal marshalls played by Roddy Piper and Richard Tyson, transport said prisoner only known as Sin-Jin Smyth, who is played by Korn frontman Jonathan Davis who plays the title role with intensity and the look is nothing short of freaky. The casting is brilliant... everyone from Charles Cyphers (who delivers one of the films best lines) to porn star Jenna Jameson. Dettenmaier pulls all the stops but does not pull any punches. Tyson and Piper pull off a dynamic together that I have not seen since "Lethal Weapon". Brilliant all the way around.

Are you afraid of the dark?

And yet, it's the sheer arbitrariness of the action that gives "Sin-Jin Smyth" its strange conviction. Dettenmaier has captured the texture of a disjointed, half-remembered nightmare, full of figures and events that seem to have some symbolic value, but which have lost their precise meaning in the process of floating up from the subconscious. There are elements in the film so strange and opaque that they must be deeply personal.

Dettenmaier sustains the dream-like sense through his very sophisticated manipulation of space. The film has a thick plot, and a definite progression-from wide, evening exteriors, through night exteriors that have been strangely emptied of people, through increasingly claustrophobic interiors and finally to the wholly imaginary back-folding space of the Sin-Jin Smyth's labyrinthine domain.

In his own, probably unconscious way, Dettenmaier has rediscovered the surrealist cinema of the 1920's- the destruction of the story line, the surge of symbols emptied of content, the systematic refusal to make sense.

"Sin-Jin Smyth" doesn't go nearly as far as those films, but it still has its subversive value. At a time when mainstream movies have become almost harrowingly explicit, only the independent horror film retains the right to be enigmatic. Ethan Dettenmaier takes that opportunity and runs with it. I'd vote for Sin-Jin Smyth to be the best horror film of 2006... and we only saw the rough cut.

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You absolutely need to see this movie.


Review by John Gray, for Pitofhorror.com

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