The Sin Eater (The Order) (2003) (Rental)

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Rental Version Only
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 98:04
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (64:00) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Brian Helgeland

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Heath Ledger
Shannyn Sossamon
Benno Fürmann
Mark Addy
Peter Weller
Francesco Carnelutti
Mattia Sbragia
Mirko Casaburo
Giulia Lombardi
Richard Bremmer
Cristina Maccà
Paola Emilia Villa
Rosalinda Celentano
Case ?
RPI Rental Music David Torn

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film, which I had not seen before reviewing this DVD, was given an absolute pasting by the critics when it was released and did very badly at the box office, taking only $11 Million worldwide. It was released as The Order in the US, however, it was renamed The Sin Eater here (possibly so the bad publicity wouldn't reach us). Obviously, knowing these facts sets my expectations quite low, however, I always like to see such films and make my own decisions about their merits or otherwise. So, is this film as bad as all that? The short answer is no, however, it's not great either.

    The plot of this film is quite convoluted and somewhat confusing, but the basic drift goes like this. A rogue priest, Alex (Heath Ledger), receives news that the leader of his order, Brother Dominic has died. We see that Brother Dominic has met with a man called William Eden (Benno Furmann) just before his death. Alex is visited by Cardinal Driscoll (Peter Weller of Robocop fame) who tells him to go to Rome and investigate the death. He takes with him the only other living member of his order, Thomas (Mark Addy from The Full Monty) and a girl who has just escaped from a mental institution where she was sent for trying to kill him. Her name is Mara Williams (Shannyn Sossamon) and she is in love with him despite the fact that he is a priest. During the investigation he comes across a Sin Eater, who is a being who can absolve the sins of those who the Church will not absolve, such as people who have been excommunicated. The Sin Eater does this by taking the pain and knowledge of the sins upon himself or 'eating' them.

    The basic premise of this film is quite an intriguing one - that is, that your sins can be absolved by someone else taking them over for you. Unfortunately, there are too many other subplots involved in the movie which are not as interesting or are just plain confusing. This is especially true of the subplot involving the character known as Shirac and the happenings which occur in his dungeon and the two small children who reappear regularly throughout the film. It is interesting that someone like Brian Helgeland who wrote, produced and directed this film could not end up with a more coherent film, particularly considering his previous screenwriting work on such films as LA Confidential (for which he won an Oscar) and Mystic River (for which he was nominated). I suppose if you take into account that he also wrote dire films such as The Postman and A Knight's Tale, this is not a complete surprise. Another similarity with A Knight's Tale is that he directed that one as well and used a similar cast.

    Basically, this film gets points for being different and having an interesting premise but loses them due to some confusion and silliness in the plot. If you are a fan of religion based thrillers or horror films such as End of Days or Stigmata, you will find this interesting. I would recommend a rental before buying.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is very good with only minor issues.

    The feature is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was generally clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. There was, however, regular grain which was obvious in one or two short passages. Shadow detail was reasonable with night scenes showing some details.

    The colour was good throughout with all colours being well saturated and free from colour bleeding. The skin colouring was generally natural, although Heath Ledger regularly looked like he had risen from his sick bed to take part. The colour palette of the film is quite dark generally.

    The only artefacts I noticed were two white specks at 46:12 and 52:36.

    There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired only. These subtitles were clear, easy to read and very close to the spoken word. There were burned in subtitles in English when languages other than English were spoken.

    This is a dual layer disc and the layer change is extremely well placed somewhere in Chapter 19 (according to my computer) but I could not precisely locate it.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is good, but certainly not spectacular.

    This DVD contains only one audio option - an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was quite muffled from time to time, especially that of Heath Ledger who seemed to spend most of the film mumbling. I found it necessary to turn the volume up (even though this made the rest of the soundtrack quite loud) in order to catch the dialogue. The subtitles also came in handy from time to time to check a word or two.    

    There were no problems with audio sync.    

    The score of this film by David Torn is quite good and it adds a distinctly creepy tone to the proceedings.

    The surround speakers were used fairly regularly providing ambiance and directional effects.

    The subwoofer was used regularly, especially for the addition of atmospheric bass tones.


Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu included a scene selection function but nothing else.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This movie is available in both Region1 and Region 2 with a director's commentary and deleted scenes. I believe that this review disc is the rental version only, so a real comparison can only be done when the sell-through version is released. At this stage, Region 2 would be the choice as it also includes a DTS track in addition to the Dolby Digital 5.1.


    This disc contains a messy film based upon an interesting premise.

    The video quality is very good considering the age of the film.

    The audio quality is good but not great.

    The disc has no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, August 06, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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