The Merits of Sin: The Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine aka Garden of Love (2003) (Germany)

Olaf Ittenbach is up to his old bloody tricks in this enjoyable and poorly acted dismemberment fest. The brutal slaughter of a peaceful commune (we get to see all the nasty and under-lit murders spliced in with the opening credits) leaves young Rebecca Verlaine the sole survivor. She wakes up from her shock induced coma two years later with amnesia and is put in the care of her aunt and uncle. Twelve years pass and Rebecca has still not regained any memory of that awful night or her life prior to that.

Credit kills

When her father’s ghost begins putting in appearances , her memories slowly return in a fractured state. This leads to her figuring out who she is and looking into her past which drives her head first into the massacre that claimed her father’s life. Attempting to figure out who she was, she drags along her professor/lover with plans to dig deep into the tragedy that took her memory. She talks to the detective who worked her case and gets a bunch of exposition dropped in her lap.

My teacher, my lover

It turns out her father left her everything, so even if the cop didn’t want her to snoop around the commune, he’d have very little say in what she does with her property. She soon learns that the ghosts of those slaughtered that night are still there and they are a malevolent bunch. The spectral occupants have a knack for ripping apart any unfortunate soul who steps in the house and after they make a mess of a few police officers, Rebecca’s dad tells her to figure out who killed them and bring them to the house for some splattery vengeance.

Rebecca…use the force

Dismembered limbs fly, fists are forced through human flesh, heads explode and blood stains everything in Ittenbach’s refreshingly old school splatter flick. Most of the cast struggle through their lines but James Matthews-Pyecka steals the show with his overacting and delivery that just screams “I AM GUILTY! I AM UP TO NO GOOD!” Lead actress Natacza Boon is so damn skinny she successfully pulls off fragility without putting that much effort in. But who gives a damn about acting in an Olaf Ittenbach film? You’re here for the guts and I am happy to say the man has not lost a step in his icky strut. There’s a shit ton of carnage on display and all of it is practical. The boring bits are easily enjoyed thanks to the quality of acting and the splatter (although mostly receiving poor lighting) is as impressive as ever. Another fun flick from that German nut job. 6/10

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