Sinister is a horror film directed by Scott Derrickson and stars Ethan Hawke. Released in 2012, Sinister is about a true crime author named Ellison Oswalt, who has just moved into a new home with his family. Unbeknownst to his wife, Ellison just moved them into a home where an entire family was brutally murdered.
Ellison soon discovers a box full of Super 8 footage that contains, in graphic detail, the gruesome murders of multiple different families. As he slowly investigates this mystery, unusual and frightening things start happening around the home. Ellison now fears that his family too, might be in danger.
Sinister definitely was, at times, a frightening film. The film dedicates a lot of time to this home video style footage of different families being murdered by a nameless, stalking killer. The killer first videotapes the family having fun in the backyard or watching a movie, then the footage will suddenly cut to the process by which they are murdered. I felt this was an effective way to scare the audience. The filmmakers included a lot of buildup in these scenes, as well as a freaky music score and a terrifying payoff.
This kind of imagery isn’t something I want to see, even in my horror movies. I do find these home video scenes horribly terrifying, but not on a fun, enjoyable level. I love being frightened by horror films, but not so much when it comes purely from the shock value. I guess at times, Sinister just started feeling a little too real for me.
One thing I noticed is that there were too many scenes of our main character Ellison investigating bumps in the night. There must be at least twenty minutes or so of film dedicated to him slowly searching around the house for sounds he heard, only to find nothing. I took this as the films way of attempting to build suspense, but it came off as just trying to waste time.
The film is needlessly taken down this ‘supernatural entity’ route as the source of evil. It would’ve been much more interesting if the filmmakers took a different approach to the entire second half of the film. Instead they went with the easier “It was a ghost the whole time!” logic and left it at that. Some people may disagree, but I have grown tired of this direction that most modern horror flicks feel necessary to take.
The actual ending isn’t very satisfying either. In most cases I would call the ending of this film a cop-out, but that just seems to be the way many horror films like to end. Again, I feel this way of ending horror films is overused and tiresome. How about you leave the audience feeling satisfied with a well crafted ending?
Sinister strayed far from my usual taste in horror films, but I do understand why so many people enjoy it. It is horrifying, mixing a lot of disturbing imagery with a very unsettling (and effective) musical score. And while I disliked the film’s direction and choices it made, I understand that there are people who really like this sort of thing. So if you’re a horror movie fan who doesn’t mind imagery that blurs the line of too realistic, Sinister might be one worth watching.
The Verdict: C