(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to write a poem about food. I had to stretch the topic a bit, but here it applies to a ritualistic meal.)


In olden days, when Death dropped by
To whisk away a willing soul,
The folk believed that sin’s control
Still clung to what was left.
And so one chosen with a sigh
Was tasked with eating bread and wine
That represented as a sign
The dead one’s every lie and theft.

How heavy was this obligation,
Living only for the dead!
The taste of wine and sin-soaked bread
Lay bitter on the tongue.
This ritual owed its foundation
To the oldest of traditions,
But the cure for superstitions
Lay in faith held by the young.

MPAA rating: PG-13

My VC has grown extremely fond of the works of Francine Rivers, a best-selling Christian author whose one hit to garner a film adaptation is The Last Sin Eater. One of the weaknesses of Christian films is that the evangelical message is often the only reason it exists, at the expense of a worthwhile story. Luckily, The Last Sin Eater, directed by Michael Landon, Jr., has a good story. Focusing on an obscure but fascinating 19th-century tradition of some Celtic immigrants of Appalachia, the film paints a compelling tale of guilt amid a rural community with a surprisingly dark secret.

Young Cadi Forbes (Liana Liberato) is overcome with guilt for the death of her sister and seeks out the village’s reclusive Sin Eater to take away her iniquity. The Sin Eater dresses in a black robe and is treated like the boogeyman of a horror movie, even though he’s merely a victim of an alienating tradition. When Cadi meets a man of God (a grown-up Henry Thomas from E.T.), she becomes dubious of the necessity of a sin eater in light of someone named Jesus. This Christian element is key to the story’s resolution, but the core mystery remains separate and interesting.

While the acting isn’t always entirely convincing, Liberato is an earnest Cadi, and Henry Thomas and Louise Fletcher add some star power to an otherwise lesser-known cast. The woodland cinematography is also charmingly picturesque and a step above other low-budget films, even if the special effects aren’t. While it may please mainly faith-based audiences, The Last Sin Eater is a quaint and positive tale of redemption which, according to my VC, is not quite as good as the book.


Rank: Honorable Mention


© 2016 S. G. Liput

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