Sins of the Father (2004)

Rating: C-

Dir: Glen Baisley
Star: Richard Redmond, Pete Barker, Joe Lauria, Isabelle Stephen

Turns out this is the third part of a trilogy by Baisley, though the DVD cover is less than forthcoming regarding this matter. You have to go down to the list of DVD special features, which includes “Behind the Horror: a look back at the trilogy”. However, the director’s introduction has no such reluctance, proclaiming that this “brings to a close the Black Rose trilogy.” This follows on from Fear of the Dark in 2001, and The Tenement in 2003, neither of which I have seen. I suspect this is a bit problematic, because the story seems to presume a certain degree of familiarity with what has gone before. Combine this with the generally low-fi production values and it gets off to a very rough start.

Eventually, things settle down and we get a useful plot. This sees Peter Jacobs (Redmond) return to his home town of Fairview Falls in order to find the truth about the murder of his family, years previously. Eventually, this takes him to the bedside of Ethan Fernier (Barker), an old man who knows his time on Earth is limited. He opens up to Pete, telling his life story from a young man (played by Lauria), whose inner rage leads him to kill and kill again, as everyone in his life leaves or otherwise disappoints him. It lets him achieve some sense of closure, while also answering Jacobs’s long-standing questions about the fate of his wife and son.

I’m impressed by the way the makers have come up with a whole mythology around Fairview Falls, covering a period of more than eighty years. It’s a bit like Stephen King’s Castle Rock, helping create a cinematic universe, albeit on a micro scale. Just a shame the resources here are not able to match the ambition. In particular, the performances are all over the place. Barker is probably the best, giving a nice understated portrayal that manages to be convincing. Lauria is somewhat less consistent, as a younger version of the killer. Sometimes he hits the mark, sometimes not. But the further you get from the main cast, the more painfully amateur things get. Some are spectacularly bad, especially early on, and I’d not blame anyone if they quickly reached for the stop button.

This effectively undoes the positives, taking me completely out of the movie on several occasions, and it’s just too long of a haul back uphill each time. You’ll remember the coarse acting longer than the better stuff. I must say, I did enjoy the special features on this DVD, such as the interviews and director’s commentary. It’s one of the things I miss with the pivot to streaming, where you rarely get more than the film. Especially in little movies like this, you get a better appreciation of the passion that those involved bring to the production, making films for the love of it. Regardless of the end result, that can only be admired and respected.