WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

PLUGGED IN RATING

Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

Halfway through the 19th century, Cadi Forbes and her family live in a small Appalachian community of Welsh immigrants. The 10-year-old girl's beloved grandmother passes away and, as is their custom, the whole village gathers at the graveyard and waits, with backs turned, for the Sin Eater to arrive. The shrouded figure drifts in, eats bread and wine that has been set on the body and speaks of taking the woman's sins upon himself so that she may rest in peace.

The funeral has a stirring effect on Cadi and she becomes obsessed with seeking out this mysterious man in hopes that the guilt she feels over the death of her younger sister (Elen) can be taken away. Meanwhile, a stranger camping outside the community says he can help Cadi find God's truthful answer to the burden she is bearing. Truth, however, is one thing that some people in this cove would kill to keep hidden.

Advertisement

Positive Elements

In a sweet scene, Cadi brings flowers to an elderly neighbor woman (Miz Elda) she thinks can lead her to the Sin Eater. After they talk, Elda asks, "Was the Sin Eater the only reason you came by today?" Cadi responds truthfully, "Yes ma'am." But then Cadi impulsively embraces her and declares, "But it won't be next time."

In spite of the dangers facing him, Cadi's friend, Fagan, puts his physical safety on the line to help her and others. In fact, at one point he tries to prevent his violent father from attacking the stranger and is badly beaten for his efforts. Cadi responds by tending to him and helping him get to safety and medical aid. Likewise, Cadi puts herself between a man with a gun and the Sin Eater to keep him from being killed. She also reaches out to the Sin Eater in a way no one else will. Her motives are at first self-serving, but she gradually comes to care about him and seems to resent the fact that he's been needlessly ostracized by her family and friends. He repays her kindnesses by trying to help her and Fagan in several significant ways. (As does another ostracized woman.)

[Spoiler Warning] Cadi and her mom, who have had a strained relationship ever since little Elen's death, reconcile and talk things out. Cadi blames herself for the tragedy. Her mother shoulders the blame, too. They're both finally able to let it go. Cadi's father, meanwhile, never fails to show his love and support for his daughter, and urges his wife to resist her ongoing temptation to emotionally shut the girl out.

Spiritual Content

Much of The Last Sin Eater revolves around Cadi's spiritual journey which culminates with her salvation. "Would I have to live to be Granny's age to be free of all the evil I had done?" she wonders in the early stages of her quest. And clearly, the film states, she does not. After she asks, "Who will take my sins away?" we're shown and told that only Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the "original Sin Eater" can do such a miraculous thing.

The villagers' phony savior, by way of contrast, can't do a thing for Cadi, even though he tries his best.

The Sin Eater is referred to by locals (who say they believe in "powerful dark spirits") as "a man who sold himself to the devil" and who "spends his whole life hopin' people will die so he can feast on their sins." But we learn fairly early that the Sin Eater is actually a normal man who, 20 years prior, had been chosen by a public lottery to serve the spiritual needs of the community. He earnestly believes that he has been chosen by God's hand and, even though it means that he can have no physical contact with the living (including the woman he loves) and he must sacrifice his soul for their sake, he performs his duty selflessly. "For thy earthly sins, dear woman, I pawn my own soul," he intones while attending to the dead form of Cadi's grandmother.

Later, when he discovers that it was all a lie he laments, "All of these years and it wasn't God's will." Elda explains why the old-world tradition of the Sin Eater was instated in their little town, with, "I suppose the fear of God comes upon all men. Even the cruelest."

The Sin Eater rituals are depicted onscreen, and they're a bit creepy seeing as how they involve a corpse. But none of the scenes cross over into horror-movie territory. And the music, lighting, editing, etc., don't dig for cheap thrills. Instead, even from early on—due in large part to heavy-handed foreshadowing—you know that what the villagers are doing is wrong, and that it's only a matter of time before they see the light.

That light is introduced to them by the stranger, a Man of God who follows the Lord's leading and puts feet to his prayers for Cadi's people. He meets stiff resistance—but not from Cadi. When she seeks him out to warn him that he's in danger, he speaks of Jesus' sacrifice and gently guides her to the Savior's forgiveness.

[Spoiler Warning] Ultimately he gives his life to spread God's Word (giving Cadi his Bible before he dies). And later, through Cadi's efforts, the horrid truth of the community's murderous past is revealed and the whole town comes to faith in God. The Sin Eater himself becomes their spiritual leader and baptizes them all.

As Cadi strives to find a way to rid herself of her soul-crushing guilt, she is befriended by a little girl—dressed all in white—she's never seen before. The girl (or, more likely, an angel) appears and disappears at will while guiding and encouraging Cadi in times of need. Then when Cadi has lost all hope and is on the edge of suicide, God sends the preacher to literally pull her back from the brink.

Addressing her despair, the preacher assures Cadi that "nothin' you could have done could make the Lord love you any more or any less." Similarly, confronting Cadi's habit of running away and hiding every time she's scared, the angel informs her, "God has not given you a heart of fear."

Sexual Content

None.

Violent Content

Brogan Kai, Fagan's father, literally rules the little mountainside community with an iron fist. We see him slap and choke Cadi (she passes out), and severely beat his son (leaving him bloodied, bruised and swollen-faced). Cadi throws a rock at Brogan to make him stop. Later we discover that his violent behavior was battered into him by his father who led men in the slaughter of a Native American village.

The evil leader shoots men point-blank, sends women and children plunging off a precipice to their death and forces his own son (Brogan as a boy) to set fire to teepees full of imprisoned families. One injured survivor crawls to a nearby cave and draws pictures of the events on the cave wall with his own blood (which we see streaming down his arm and onto his hand).

Cadi and her little sister fight over a rag doll. Cadi slaps Elen and then their mother slaps Cadi. [Spoiler Warning] When Cadi runs off, Elen follows to apologize and accidentally falls to her death in the same ravine where many of the Indians perished. An overpowering sense of guilt and grief drives Cadi to imagine herself plunging to her own death—and eventually causes her to really attempt it. Also of note, but still something of a plot spoiler is the unsettling fact that Fagan's pa beats the preacher to death in front of his son and Cadi. (The scene is difficult to watch, but isn't gory or even all that explicit since much of the "action" is seen from a distance and it's shot outside in the dark.)

Crude or Profane Language

None.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Each time the Sin Eater performs his "duty," he drinks from a wineskin that has been placed on the chest of the deceased.

Other Negative Elements

Cadi steals a jar of preserves from home to place on her grandmother's grave to hopefully connect with the Sin Eater. Brogan not only uses his brawn to control the people around him, he also lies and cheats to get the things he wants—uncaring of the fact that his manipulations cause severe pain. Cadi and Fagan both tell family members (a mom, a sister and a dad) that they hate them.

Conclusion

Michael Landon Jr. is best (and most recently) known for directing a series of films based on Christian author Janette Oke's novels. (Love's Abiding Joy is his latest.) With The Last Sin Eater, he continues to borrow from his famous father's dramatic sensibilities as he brings another bestselling author, Francine Rivers (The Atonement Child and Redeeming Love) to the screen.

This time around, Landon trades in the open prairie for the coves and confines of Appalachia, and he adds a touch of eeriness by turning his attention to an old-world pagan tradition. He also turns the camera on a few violent (and fatal) confrontations, scenes of death rituals, and Cadi's suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Sin Eater has an occasional indie-film freshness about it—especially when it focuses on the excellent performance given by the talented and endearing Liana Liberato (who plays Cadi). Its comparatively involving story is made up of mild twists and turns that seem, at first, like rabbit trails, but ultimately all pull together. At the same time, however, many of Liberato's adult co-stars fail to live up to her potential. And chunks of the script feel as if the writer was working around commercial breaks, not directly addressing more savvy theatergoers whose expectations are rising right along with ticket prices.

One thing no one could ever fault this effort for, though, is going soft while telling a story about how Christ's redemptive work can set free even the most guilt-beset heart. The film begins with, "Secrets always reveal themselves in the light of truth." And it essentially ends with, "The truth will set you free." In between, it sheds a good deal of light on both facts.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!