Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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The Sinner: Season One
Anthology series are nothing new, but they have gained a sort of “comeback” with series like True Detective, American Horror Story and Black Mirror gaining popularity over the years. The fact that they’re ALL in the mystery/horror sub genre is nothing new either, as that particular bent seems to be the brunt of the anthology viewer base. So color me VERY intrigued to see a series starring Jessica Biel (pretty much the epitome of my early 20’s crush) and Bill Pullman (one of my favorite 90s actors) coming together for a horror/mystery series like the above mentioned, but on the USA network instead of the more common Netlfix and HBO venues. Well, The Sinner: Season One isn’t as amazing as True Detective, or as gruesome and twisted as the overly bloated American Horror Story, but it is a great piece of TV anthology viewing, with a crisp story line that goes well with the 8 episodes allotted for the first season.
The premise of the series is pretty simple. We’re taunted with the trailer of a woman murdering a man on the beach, and the show doesn’t waste any time and jumps right in the deep end. Cora Tannetti (Jessica Biel) is a mild mannered, if not slightly nervous) woman who just randomly jumps up in front of her husband and 4 year old child, and stabs a man on the beach without any provocation. After the fact Cora is horrified at what she’s done, but also has no recollection of WHY she did what she did, and has no knowledge of WHO the person was she just killed! So the question turns to WHY (not who) is the cause of this murder, and detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) is pulled into a web of mystery and deceit as he tries to ascertain this important little question.
The Sinner is based off of a novel by German writer, Petra Hammesfahr, and follows the same winding patter as the book (for the most part). The show is very languidly paced, with that sort of “small town” vibe that Twin Peaks started out with, making the whole gravity of the situation that much more intense. The story feels very much like the “evil woman snapping” stories that we’ve been privy to over the years, with Cora gaining the attention and eyes of everyone around her in the tight night community. But also the ability to turn all of that on its ear if Harry Ambrose can get to the bottom of the situation. The recurring flashback/vision/dream that Cora has of the yellow wall is something to take note of, as it acts as one of the biggest surreal clues to the whole thing.
The Sinner doesn’t meander or wander around too much, but gets straight to the point by throwing us in the deep end during the first few minutes of the first episode. The story is a bit languid and slow paced at times, but the 8 episode arc keeps it from becoming too bloated. The story is incredibly well done, and the performances are absolutely incredible. I always loved Bill Pullman, but he has been given the proverbial shaft in his recent acting career, while Biel has all but fallen off the map since she married Justin Timberlake. Both of them pull out truly incredible performances that resonate well with the material at hand, and had my jaw hanging to the floor by the time the season ends.
Not Rated by the MPAA
The Sinner is one of those anthology series like True Detective, where if we have a second season it is going to be pretty much a new cast (or almost completely new), and the show is much better by not having us rely on dragging things out with recurring actors. The performances are actually quite impressive, coming from a pair of actors that I initially thought would sink the season. The show is short, to the point, and the technical specs make for a great DVD package. Sadly no Blu-ray release, but it is what it is with modern TV home video releases. My only frustration is that the extras are relegated to some deleted scenes and nothing else, but don’t let this stop you from a great story. Definitely recommended for a good watch.
Starring: Jessica Biel, Bill Pullman, Christopher Abbott
Created by: Dereck Simonds
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1, French DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, French
Runtime: 339 Minutes
DVD Release Date: February 13th, 2018
Recommendation: Good Watch