Ethan Hawke is a true crime novelist in the new horror/thriller, Sinister from Summit Entertainment, the producer of the Paranormal Activity franchise and the writer/director of The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Is this movie a refreshing addition to the horror genre, or should it just be packed in a box and left in an attic?
Ellison Oswalt is a well renown true crime novelist who made it big with his book, “Kentucky Blood.” But that was ten years ago, and while the fame of writing a New York Times best seller still exists, it has dramatically diminished. Wanting more in a professional life than editing college text books, he packs his family up on a quest to write his next best crime book.
In order to do proper research, Ellison moves to the town where an unsolved crime has been committed. This time, unbeknownst to his wife, he moves his family into the exact house where a family was brutally hanged from the tree in the back yard and a daughter came up missing.
While unpacking the moving trucks, Ellison sets up his office and journeys up into the attic to store some extra boxes. To his surprise he finds a box labeled ‘Home Movies.” Inside he finds a Super 8 film projector and reels of film labeled “Family Hanging Out”, “Pool Party”, and “Sleepy Time.” Curious about the films, Ellison sets up the projector in his office. To his shock and awe, he witnesses the most horrific and brutal killings of families, one being the exact family whose house he just moved his family into.
Will Ellison solve the mystery of the films or did he open a Pandora’s box that will put his entire family in jeopardy?
Most horror movies that come to theaters are usually the same unimaginable slasher film or have a ridiculously super natural creature that has promiscuous teens running for their lives. Instead of in your face sight gags and gratuitous blood shed, Sinister plays more against the audience’s imagination with glimpses of macabre. The images you’ll witness are so eerily disturbing that I overheard some people say they were sleeping with the lights on later that night. Another thing that Sinister does well is play with peoples’ emotions by basing the murders in reality. I left the movie easily creeped out by what I had witnessed.
Where Sinister may have you scratching your head, is that you basically watch Ethan Hawk watch home movies in the dark of his office for almost two hours. And when he isn’t drinking whiskey to numb the pain, he’s walking around the house reacting to things that go bump in the night. There really isn’t too much character development of Ethan Hawke or his family, other than fighting with his wife over the hell he puts them through every time he wants to write a book, but I don’t think that’s what the movie was supposed to do. I felt that the filmmakers’ goal was to have Hawke be your eyes to unravel the mystery of the murders. You’ll jump when he does. You’ll scream when he does. You’ll even turn your head away the exact moments when he does. Just wait til you see “Lawn Care.”
Sinister does follow some basic horror movie templates. If you’ve seen The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise), then you’ll already know the basic premise of Sinister. Basically a demon has the ability to use images as a gateway from the underworld and once you see the demon, you’re dead. You may even find some similarities to the Ring. Sinister however uses the psychological terrorism that movies like Sessions 9 does by letting you follow along with the protagonist as he discovers clue after clue. What really made the movie super creepy beyond the visuals was the soundtrack that easily made your skin crawl and the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. While your eyes are focused on the screen, the sound effects will haunt your ears and bring the fear to a higher level.
I had a good time with Sinister. It was more disturbing than scary, but let’s face it, sometimes your imagination is a lot more horrific than blatant blood and guts. I did find the ending quite predictable, but it was quite an experience getting there. As usual, I’m not fond of major product placement, as certain parts of the movie felt like one big Apple commercial. It was really fun to watch the film in a completely packed dark theater and feed off the reactions of other audience members as they laughed at the people who jumped at every frightening moment. Compared to House at the End of the Street, I liked this one a lot more. It may fall short of The Cabin in the Woods in originality, but I think Sinister may be the start of a new horror franchise. I’d say to definitely check it out this spooky Halloween season.
In Theaters: October 12, 2012
Runtime: 1 hour 50 minutes
Rating: R (for disturbing violent images and some terror)
Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, James Ransone
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Official Site: http://www.HaveYouSeenHim.com