Director: Jeff Wedding
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 6.5/10
Jeff Wedding’s A Measure of the Sin encapsulates everything needed to breathe life into a stagnant genre. The film blurs the lines between experimental art piece and uneasy horror, with a visual style that stands on its own. It’s strange, unsettling, and extremely well-made, especially considering the low budget this surely had.
The narrative is almost exclusively told in voice over from the character of Meredith (Katie Groshong), a young woman who escapes her isolated childhood only to be taken in by a family who also keep her in seclusion.
The household consists of several women and their children, and a domineering old man who rules over the women in the most sinister of ways. After being attacked at night by what she perceives as a bear, Meredith makes a decision to leave the household and attempt to find freedom once and for all.
Meredith’s story is told in a very surreal, slightly abstract way, with random imagery, and some downright bizarre moments. Rather than just leaving us to interpret what’s happening on screen for ourselves, the ever-present narration from Meredith guides us along this dark road. If the narration wasn’t so well-written, this would be problematic, and I still think it would be interesting to see a cut of the film without the voice over. That isn’t to say it’s used as a hand holding technique, far from it. The majority of the narration feels more like poetry than exposition.
The plot jumps back and forth between when Meredith was a child trapped with her mother, and now as an adult trapped with The Man. As the film progresses, we begin to see how her troubled upbringing as a child impacted and inhibited her as an adult. Though she isn’t physically held captive, she knows nothing of the outside world and is afraid to be out on her own.
Shot on Super 16mm, the visual style of the film is its first noticeable aspect. The characters are living in a world that’s separate from ours, one we haven’t seen for many years, and the look reflects that almost perfectly, as if it’s straight out of the 60s or 70s. This enhances the dream-like nature of the film, and give it an authenticity that can only be achieved with that specific type of camera.
A Measure of the Sin is a bold vision in arthouse horror that doesn’t come around too often. While it’s much too abstract for most audiences, it sticks to its guns and is unapologetic about what it is. I hope that this is a sign of things to come from director Jeff Wedding and writer Kristy Nielsen, as they seem to be headed the right direction.