House of Sin

Reviewed By Charles Tatum
Posted 02/10/11 15:24:43

"S & Mage"
2 stars (Pretty Crappy)

Break out the leather and lace, writer and film maker Philip Gardiner has a sparse story to tell you.

Paul (Nik Spencer) is the handyman at a small hotel in London. The guests there are not your typical travellers but people society would think of as misfits, thanks to their desire to be themselves. The hotel's proprietor, the Mage (John Symes), allows people to do what they want, whether it be self-humiliation, transvestism, voyeurism, or whatnot.

The Mage is odd in that he never seems to answer a question directly. He talks in philosophical riddles, with enough charisma to turn even a middle-aged Christian woman into a lesbian with just a conversation. Paul is drawn into this netherworld, despite his lack of understanding about the residents' motivations, until he finds himself buying a small place and starting a refuge of his own, with dire results.

While Gardiner tries to bring back the S&M exploitation genre singlehandedly, he goes about it in a frustrating way. Despite the plot summary, not much happens in the film. Paul is intrigued by the Mage, who controls everyone around him, but the curiosity about the Mage is never resolved to the viewer's satisfaction. Many storylines are dropped, since the film is an excuse to bring on some songs from independent bands and give them some play. Gardiner's directorial technique is rich with camera tricks and effects, which does detract from the odd scenes.

Another (good) detraction is the almost constant nudity on display. The female cast are undressed for most of the film, and while they do perform as characters, Gardiner goes for the butt and boob shots over characterization. An entire scene is devoted to a new girl entering the establishment, only to have the character dropped by the very next scene. After Paul opens his new place, what happens to the original Mage's tenants?

I was more appreciative of the eye candy than Gardiner's screenplay, as he really could have done something about cult worship and idolatry, but in a sleazy and non-preachy way if need be. The sound quality is terrible as well, with Paul's narration being twice as loud as the dialogue scenes. The different songs are pretty good, though.

"House of Sin" ends up being a film of half-explored ideas, softcore porn, and hot chicks...but I can see hot chicks on many a website or video. For more information on the film, go to:

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