Updated: Mar 6
The Seven Deadly Sins lend themselves to being a choice horror movie theme. They are a tale as old as time, it is simply a matter of how they are portrayed, what spin the author or creator takes to make the tale their own. As such, it is difficult for a popular theme like this to really make a mark, to stand out from the rest of the pack.
Thus we have Rolfe Kanefsky’s Art of the Dead, a supernatural satire of high-brow art culture. The “Sin-Sational” series of works by Dorian Wilde (Danny Tesla) are fresh off the auction block and into the house of Dylan Wilson (Lukas Hassel). These seven paintings, each using an animal to represent one of the Seven Deadly Sins, seem to add a dark sense of beauty to the Wilson home, but soon things start taking a turn. Dylan’s artist son Louis (Zachary Chyz) takes a more sinister edge in his work. Comer-of-age Donna (Cynthia Aileen Strahan) is more driven than ever to get the boy of her dreams. Wife Gina (Jessica Morris) is left insatiable in more ways than one. Can the troubled Father Mendale (Robert Donovan) save the Wilson family from the cursed artwork? Or will the artwork he has dedicated his life to sealing away claim another clan?
This might be one of my favorite films this year. It is so polished, so put together, and the characters feel like real human people until they don’t, when all hell breaks loose thanks to the Wilde paintings. Even when the madness grows, it goes to a level of “what the fuck” that is believable enough to not be completely silly. The individual stories of the Wilson family and their otherworldly experiences under the painting’s influences allow the scope of Wilde’s work to truly be felt.
When the gore comes, it looks great. I won’t spoil much here, but the first kill that isn’t a flashback, which I might argue is the most ridiculous in its James Bond-level wildness, still looks like a visceral killing despite the bewildering nature. Also, B horror regular Tara Reid as art dealer Tess Barryman is a nice touch to really cement this is as just a few degrees off cool, but in a good way.
I have nothing bad to say about this movie, and that is a rare feeling to have. I went in with very little expectations, and I was very pleased with the end result. It’s not a jaw-dropping SFX beauty or a taut, suspenseful piece, but damn it, it is a fun ride for ninety minutes, and it rarely feels at all dull or uninteresting.
And since the joke is standing there in front of me, I’ll make it. It would be a sin to miss out on Art of the Dead.
The film is now available on DVD via Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, as well as DVD and Digital platforms via ITN Distribution in the U.S.