Seven girls. Seven deadly sin.
The Sinners, which debuted on several digital platforms across North America on Friday, is a thriller film that follows seven girls from a religious high school who decide to rebel by starting a cult in which they embody the seven deadly sins.
Grace Carver, the pastor’s daughter—and the most popular girl in school—discovers her friend is about to air out all of their dirty little secrets.
Action must be taken.
As a scare tactic, the girls kidnap Aubrey, but in the heat of an argument, she goes missing. As their friend group begins to dwindle one by one, Grace and the remaining cult members realize there’s a much darker secret behind their small town.
The girls question whether they’ll survive the rest of the school year and investigate the mystery behind the missing bodies. If they can’t figure it out, they could be suspects, or worse, victims.
Co-written and directed by Courtney Paige and starring Kaitlyn Bernard, The Sinners debuted on Apple TV, Bell, Cineplex, Cogeco, Eastlink, Google Play, Microsoft XBOX, Rogers, Shaw, and Telus. We caught up with Courtney and Kaitlyn to chat about the film.
Courtney, you co-wrote, directed, and produced The Sinners, without giving too much away, can you tell us what this movie is about?
Courtney: The Sinners is a genre-bending murder mystery about seven girls who embody the seven deadly sins. One by one, they start to go missing and when they start to realize there’s more to their small religious town than they first thought, that’s when it gets really interesting. The film also touches upon various themes like bullying, religion, and LGBTQ+.
Kaitlyn, you play Grace Carver—can you tell us a little bit about her?
Kaitlyn: Grace Carver is kind of the leader of a group named The Sinners at her high school. She’s also the pastor’s daughter. She has a really interesting character arc—and without giving anything away, she’s dealing with all these teenage emotions and things throughout the story. Whether it’s trying to figure out her sexuality to rebelling against her strict religious family, she’s really trying to figure herself out.
How’d you prepare for the role?
I love challenging roles and I’ve done a lot of thrillers in the past. It’s very emotionally and physically demanding because there are long days with a lot of screaming—but it the genre I love doing because of the challenges it brings to the actors playing in them.
Originally, I asked Courtney where her inspiration came from when writing The Sinners. She recommended a bunch of movies that inspired her and when I started preparing for the film, I watched them.
Additionally, I really had to figure out what homelife would look like for Grace, considering I didn’t grow up in a religious family. It was so interesting to see how different dynamics really change things. I talked to different friends who grew up in more religious households and really tried to take those learnings and add that dimension into the character.
I went to an all-girls school, so I was also drawing from my own personal experiences when shaping Grace and figuring out who she is.
I’ve played mean girls in the past, but Grace isn’t just a mean girl—she’s actually a really sweet person, who has made a few mistakes. At her core, she doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but ultimately, she ends up having to live with the consequences of her actions.
Courtney, what would you say was the most challenging aspect of putting together a film like this?
Courtney: I think wearing multiple hats. When you’re doing so many things it pulls you in several directions, whereas it would have been nice to focus just on directing.
Ultimately though, it was really fun to write—and it was a blast to work with the cast and the other co-writers when bringing these characters to life.
Actually, I think the most challenging part was driving this humongous 5-10 gear truck. I don’t know if any other directors have done that in the history of their operations, but it was those things that were very much outside of my job description that proved to be fun challenges that I’m really grateful to have as a learning experience.
Now I can appreciate how hard it is to be a transport truck driver and how much work goes into every department.
What was the inspiration behind these characters and this story?
Courtney: I grew up as a cheerleader and then was the captain and a coach. I think understanding how it feels to be on a squad or in a close knit circle was something I pulled inspiration from. I was really inspired by Cruel Intentions, Jawbreaker, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and those types of films.
We really wanted to tell a story that was both unique and relatable, while also balancing a commercially viable and safe concept for the investors.
We thought long and hard about the direction we wanted to take this movie. This was a concept I had actually come up with about seven years ago. We brought it back from the grave and everyone ended up loving it.
It was especially appealing too because it really had never been done before. There are a lot of films that touch upon the seven deadly sins, but none where the girls actually embody them.
The film pays homage to 90s cult classic films like Cruel Intentions. Kaitlyn, tell us how it felt to kind of play that not-so-nice girl?
Kaitlyn: It’s so fun to portray a character like this, in that she’s not just the mean girl or the popular girl, she’s so much more than that one dimension. You actually get to see the behind-the-scenes of what’s happening in her family life, what’s happening in her head—something you don’t often get to see in those nineties cult classics. The mean girl doesn’t always get more depth or her own identity or background into why she is the way she is—where with Grace, you get that perspective.
There are a lot of underlying concepts in the show. Religion plays a huge part, so does sexuality, tell us a little about this.
Courtney: Both of my parents actually grew up in a strict religious household—so, I know kind of what that can do to your psyche. It’s interesting to play with. We didn’t want to single out any one religion or offend anyone, so we didn;t have these girls as Catholic school girls, or Christians, or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Rather, there’s a little bit of that all sprinkled in.
There’s also a beautiful love story going on. between We wanted to really stylize that, being careful to not sexualize it.
Brenna and Kaitlyn were amazing to work with on that because they had such a good handle on the way that they wanted to play their characters. They also were vocal about the things they were comfortable with and not comfortable with. They came to me wanting to make it so much more about the love, rather than the curiosity behind it, and I think that’s what really shows in the film and makes it such a beautiful performance.