Film Review: Generational Sins

Grown brothers return to their hometown after their mother's death and are forced to deal with their family's legacy of secrecy and abuse.
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On her deathbed, Sarah Caldwell (Leesa Folmar), the mother of grown sons Drew (Daniel MacPherson) and Will (Dax Spanogle), asks them to honor her dying wish: to return to their hometown and visit their hard-drinking father, Bill (Mark McDowell).

Both brothers are deeply conflicted: Their father was an abusive alcoholic who beat them and their mother, who eventually packed up her boys and moved with them to Florida. Drew left behind his high-school girlfriend, Rachel (Barrett Donner), and now neither is in a serious relationship and both men swore not to follow in their father's footsteps. So here they are, sharing a rundown hotel room in a town that holds nothing but bad memories, memories that are only compounded by a conversation with Pastor Thomas (Tom Folmar), during which they learn that Bill was abused by his own father, who was the town drunk in his own day. Will confronting Bill help Drew and Will end their family's multi-generational cycle of abuse?

Though this faith-based film caused a stir in the Christian community for its characters' use of mild profanity, mainstream audiences are unlikely to be disturbed by either the language or the film's circumspect depiction of child and spousal abuse. And ultimately, though Generational Sins' intentions are honorable and its performances heartfelt (notably MacPherson's), in the end none of it adds up to much—though, to its credit, it doesn't push the religious angle so hard as to make it inaccessible to non-Christian audiences.

Performances are generally strong and the chemistry between MacPherson and Spanogle is casually believable—it's easy to imagine viewers stumbling across the film on late-night TV and not even realizing its Christian origins until the last few scenes, which include an irreverently clever double “Gotcha!” from beyond the grave.

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