The Sci-fi Channel movie “Saint Sinner” is officially called “Clive Barker Presents Saint Sinner.” Unlike his fellow horror writers, Barker has always been comfortable with cinematic versions of his works, and have oftentimes written and directed movies adapted from his own short stories or novels. “Saint Sinner” is based on Barker’s work but is written and directed by other people. Despite this, the movie has Barker’s “feel” — it’s a mixture of sex, horror, gore, and human drama.
“Saint Sinner” stars Greg Serano as Tomas, a carefree monk in the 19th century who unwillingly unleashes two demon sisters from their prison. The sisters are succubae creatures that feed on men. Released, the sisters escape via a magical Wheel of Time that sends them to the present, with Tomas in hot pursuit. Tomas wields a dagger that can kill the sisters, but finding them is the least of his problems, as he ends up being suspected by the cops and Rachel (Gina Ravera), a Detective investigating the trail of corpses left behind by the demons.
For a TV movie, “Saint Sinner” is surprisingly very graphic. The succubae feed greedily by stringing their victims from ceilings and literally sucking the life out of them. It’s all done with great flavor and giddiness, and you could almost sense the pride the filmmakers have as they come up with each feeding set piece. These people are going for the throat, but unfortunately their imagination is limited by a TV movie budget.
Greg Serano does well as Tomas, the hesitant savior who, as the title suggest, isn’t exactly a saint. Because he’s a monk, Tomas also has very little martial skills. In his first encounter with the succubae, they disarm him and throw him out a window, then imprison him in a cocoon. Not exactly the type of results one expects from a hero, as it were.
Gina Ravera succeeds more as a pretty face than a cop, but that’s not an exception considering the movie’s inability to strike any sense of realism when it comes to its police segments. Rachel’s partner Morgan (Art Hindle) is such a clich’d character that one would have to be drunk and numbed on some mind-altering drug to believe he could be anything other than an actor spouting inane “cop” dialogue according to screenwriters who have gleaned all their cop knowledge from bad cop movies.
In one telling scene, while the succubae are feeding in a music store, Rachel and Morgan arrives as SWAT units are getting into position. Our top cops (sarcasm firmly in cheek) arrive, draws their weapons, and proceeds to enter the store without waiting for the highly specialized tactical cops. Worst, after the cops battle the succubae, the idiot partner still refuses to believe they’re supernatural killers. This, after one cop shoots a demon in the gut and its wound magically heals up a second later. If that wasn’t bad enough, the succubae flees the store with the idiot partner in tow, but the SWAT and other cops waiting outside apparently doesn’t see them and instead rushes into the store as the succubae makes their getaway!
As a TV movie, “Saint Sinner” is just barely good enough as a pilot for an ongoing series. As a single movie that must stand on its own, it underachieves badly. Its premise has promise, and its lead actors are likeable enough, but the film is just too incompetent for its own good. The screenplay by Doris Egan and Hans Rodionoff is full of gaping holes, plot contrivances, and amateurish dialogue.
On the plus, “Saint Sinner” looks good and has a firm grasp on its horror elements. The sister succubae are well done, with one being more feminine than the other despite the fact that both are women. They’re appropriately scary and dangerous, and there’s a lingering feeling that our heroes are in way over their heads.
Joshua Butler (director) / Clive Barker (story), Doris Egan, Hans Rodionoff (teleplay)
CAST: Gina Ravera …. Rachel Dressler
Greg Serano …. Tomas Alcala
Mary Mara …. Munkar
William B. Davis …. Father Michael