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'Sins of Our Youth' lacks emotional heft to tackle gun violence

'Sins of Our Youth' lacks emotional heft to tackle gun violence
Grant Harvey, left, and Lucas Till in "Sins of Our Youth." (Sins of Our Youth, LLC)

By all the on-screen evidence, the idea behind "Sins of Our Youth" appears to have originated in a night of substance abuse. Directed by Gary Entin and written by his twin brother, Edmund, the thriller tries to address guns and violence in our culture, but it does a better job of simply turning a drunken game of "What if?" into a slickly shot feature film.

Here, teen drinking plus assault weapons (unsurprisingly) equals death. After a night of partying, four high school boys (Lucas Till, Joel Courtney, Mitchel Musso and Bridger Zadina) return to a parents-free home and remove the lock on the gun closet. After shooting round after round into the family Christmas decorations, they discover an innocent child was accidentally killed by their bullets. Each teen has a different reaction to the crime they've committed, and they struggle with how to handle what they've done.

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How the boys' lives and plans unravel keeps the audience involved, even if the film's overly flashy style and cardboard characters threaten to push them away at every turn. With its saturated colors, swirling camerawork and aggressive techno beats, "Sins of Our Youth" is rarely dull, but it lacks the emotional resonance that one expects from a film with the death of a child at its heart.

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'Sins of Our Youth'

Rating: R, for violence, drug and alcohol use, language and some sexual content - all involving teens.

Running time: 1 hour 33 minutes

Playing: Laemmle's Royal Theatre, Los Angeles

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