A Measure of Sin is not a film everyone will want to see or going to enjoy and understand all the hidden meanings and secrets laying the darkness, as it slowly build, yet the symbolism fills every nook and cranny of the screen creating art-house religious horror reality film from director Jeff Wedding and author and screenwriter Kristy Nelson. The general reaction from critics and general audiences of this film results in landing on the extremes, from complete praise of the director’s work and the cast to the opposite end of the spectrum of confusion with the production. Wedding layered his symbolic creation and follows the lead character Meredith, portrayed by the talented Katie Groshong, yet brings the entire film for the most part through monotone narration; perhaps stating that she is null and shell shocked of her treatment of her character’s life and world. This film sides with a dramatic film, and yet through careful viewing the layers peel back exposing the realities of the horrors occurring in the household that holds Meredith captive, and revealing the hidden meaning, secrets and lies once on visible through a dirty glass.
Jeff’s screenplay uses Kristy’s storyline providing depth to their characters, starting with actor Stephen Jackson, whose character known only as The Man, a mysterious background, brooding, yet never ranting; his appeal seems to mirror a cultist leader’s memorizing standpoint. In addition to him in his household two vixen-like women, acting as Meredith’s older stepsisters, Alicia and Ruth, Starina Johnson and Dale Rainey respectfully, honor and obey The Man thoroughly. Then Meredith, who joins as a child believing in her mother that this is all normal and religious hints of honoring thy mother and father in this regard the Man is the head of the household. Sadly, the passing of her mother, leads to new torturous demise and nightmarish creation of a bear that terrorizes in her bed at night. Her life and the others are control in every facet of existence, hence leading to a victimizing life and possible freedom but to a shocking result for audience to swallow without vomiting.
Jeff uses a Super 16mm feature, rather a more modern form of cinematography equipment giving the audience a retro film to a 1960s experimental film, and perhaps that provided a better treatment, as the film had highly limited funding, yet achieved nominations and awards. He continues to interchange Meredith’s words with vivid developments and descriptive beauty of both real and imaginative images providing twisted moments of discovery without leading to any foreshadowing suggestions. Hence, the viewer journeys with Meredith and the family dynamics as a participant rather than a mere voyeuristic indulgence leading them to the same horrific moments that lay just a tad beyond the normal realms of reality. The film in total time to prep and prepare for release took over six years, wherein Jeff battle his creation and demons, of depression and leading to a darker film, with deeper haunting characters and situations which perhaps enhances the material to new heights.
Disclosing the symbolism that the film contains without exposing the plot and the twisted ending in store for the audience, tends for a difficult review, therefore I will speak of the biggest areas of confusion that plague audience members. First the bear in the nightmare is metaphorically The Man, acting as a beast, of sexual lusts and rampant disregard, as a grunting weight of sweat and intensity to impregnate the woman that her mother abandon after her own death. The film also deals with the realm of mixed bag of Stockholm syndrome and the lesser known world of Master and submissive behaviors, especially when dealing with how her mother becomes part of this lifestyle, that exist in a remote and private world. This suggests the characters Alicia and Ruth have a higher level of trust for they have honored The Man with loyalties and submission, as they institute a form of humiliation to Meredith life. In addition, the religious play continues with the adherence to the fourth commandment of honoring thy mother and father, with her mother lost, she is instilling to obey her Father, The Man. The reference to the river equals life and freedom, the water washing away sins, and providing escapism, for the prison existence that contains a Daddy and girls dynamic. Lastly, is the references to the East, likely this means traveling into the light, and herein the sunlight, the Lord’s light embrace her provide hope and righteous to her torture existence.
This film contains brutal aspects, from multiple intersecting angles and levels, taking an alternative route from safe and confined cinema of fake monsters, and goblins, and reveal devilish intentions and beastly elements of the darker portion of society. The entire cast provides interesting measurements of extreme sin and salvation. Brinkvision provided a limited edition of the feature, and a symbolic cover art of an inverted crucifix with the title in blood-red lettering, while most conceive that to hint to antichrist movie. The intention likely falls with Christ as the father, and all father striving to be Christ-like, noble, safe, protective those that corrupt that aspect are not holy, and as for the blood, watch the film.
IMDb Rating: 6.6/10
Baron’s Rating: 6.5/10
The review was originally published on the now defunct Rogue Cinema website in September 2014.