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Sinister (2012)

Sinister Poster

Director: Scott Derrickson
Writer: Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, James Ransone
Review By: Griff


So I saw that this was produced by the guy the did Paranormal Activity and Insidious and thought to myself, “This is going to be a crap sandwich.” Then I started reading some reviews saying that this was the best horror movie in years and it’s scary as hell. So I let myself get suckered into it. When will I ever learn?

Sinister is about a true crime writer named Ellison (Ethan Hawke). Several years ago he wrote a best selling novel and achieved a moderate degree of success. Since then, he has had a series of flops and money is starting to get tight. So Ellison decides to pack up the family and move them into the house where a quadruple murder occurred. (Well actually it happened in the back yard.) Apparently, he plans on writing about the case and staying in the actual house is going to help him write.

Sinister Still 1

When they start unpacking Ellison discovers a box in the attic that contains a collection of home movies. Of course Ellison gets curious and decides to sit down and watch one of the movies one night. It turns out that it is a snuff film depicting the death of the family that used to live in the house. When he investigates further Ellison discovers that all of the films are recordings of other family’s from around the US being murdered. Some of the films date back to the 1960’s and Ellison is convinced that he has stumbled upon a mass murdered who has been on a killing spree across the country for the past 40 years of so.

Rather than call the police, Ellison decides to investigate the contents of the films himself. He watches the films several times and eventually notices some symbols on the walls. He enlists the aid of a Professor of the Occult named Jonas (Vincent D’Onofrio – What the hell is he doing in this movie by the way? Did he owe someone a favor?) Jonas tells him that the symbols that he found represent a deity named Bughuul who is supposedly “the eater of children.” (I can’t make this stuff up.)

Now Ellison begins to suspect that there may be something more going on than just a series of murders. There could something supernatural involved…

Sinister Still 2

I don’t really see the need to pull any punches with this one. This movie was terrible. This is another entry into this genre of horror that involves little to no gore and trying to scare you with ghosts, children, or children that are ghosts. The movie has all the earmarks of a Roger Corman film. I was expecting to have to wear my “Ghost Viewer” glasses while I watched this.

The movie is all creaky floors and things that go bump in the night. It uses just about every gimmick in the book to try and get a jump out of you. I have to admit that I jumped a couple of times. It was like watching the cinematic equivalent of a game we played as kids where we would act like we were going to punch each other and then yell out “made you flinch!”

One of the biggest problems with this movie is that the children aren’t really scary at all. In fact, they look ridiculous with too much caked on makeup. Once you reach the point where you think they are silly, (and you will get there quickly) whenever they pop up it becomes laughable.

I will say this for the movie, it had a huge amount of potential. If they had skipped all the ridiculous parts about demons and ghosts and bullshit I think they may have had a decent movie. The snuff film footage was truly disturbing and there was the potential to have made a movie along the lines of Zodiac that would have made for a great thriller. Unfortunately what they did instead was fall back on gimmicks that have been used a thousand times before and went for cheap scares over content. I spent the better part of two hours watching this and the best part was Ethan Hawke’s cool old sweater. Sinister only gets 1 and 1/2 guys out of 3 from me.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Adam March 17, 2013, 12:38 pm

    So could I handle this one without pacing around the living room and or hiding under the covers?

    • Griff March 18, 2013, 9:07 am

      I think you would be ok. It’s all about the jump scares.

  • mummbles March 17, 2013, 2:43 pm

    I agree for the most part here, it was nothing new but had some potential. I like the old snuff film footage the best, they could have used that footage and made a better movie out of it somehow. The one credit I will give it is that after they left the house I had no idea how it will would end, something that is hard for me to not figure out after years and years of horror. BTW if you guys have second check out my newest blog!


    • Adam March 17, 2013, 4:43 pm

      mumbles, I went over there and checked it out. Is that alphabet thing going to be a regular feature on there?

      • mummbles March 17, 2013, 5:21 pm

        It was just something I saw at another blog and enjoyed, i would love to see the three of you do one or even better yet all do your own one.

    • Griff March 18, 2013, 9:11 am

      Hi Mummbles, I agree that this had some potential. I think that might be what disappointed me the most. The snuff films were the best part. It reminded me of Manhunter. They could have really done something with this.

  • Armand DC March 17, 2013, 5:55 pm

    You have got to give it to this film. It has good suspense. I agree with you on the film as a whole though.

    • Griff March 18, 2013, 9:13 am

      Hey Armand, Thanks for the comment. It had some good jumps for sure. The first two acts had me intrigued. As soon as he saw the demon in the pool it all started going downhill.

  • mikethemovieguy March 17, 2013, 7:39 pm

    Wowwwwwww. I guess you didn’t like. (lol) I actually did…a lot. I’ve learned now – when people say, “horror” film…there’s different levels in my book. For me, Sinister fell in that ‘freaky WTF’ level. It was good seeing Ethan back. I thought the music fit the film – all the creaks in the floor – then showing it was the ghost children. That was cool. (lol) It was 8mm with a demon who ate kids. (lol)

    • Griff March 18, 2013, 9:16 am

      Hi Mike, Thanks for the comment! I had a feeling this one was going to be polarizing. It has about a 60% positive rating on RT. That a pretty good split of love hate. It had a few good scares but overall it just didn’t deliver.

  • Thomas March 17, 2013, 9:27 pm

    it was terribly annoying, playing all the wrong tones, getting all the twists twisted… and yes, those children… what a mess! I was actually more flabbergasted that annoyed: how can they think that a bunch a children bending their heads in unison, standing there as if in a schools’ play could convey anything but ridicule? argh… Ethan what hath become of thou??
    More comments on the film: http://thomas4cinema.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/sinister-scott-derrickson-2012/

    • Griff March 18, 2013, 9:17 am

      Thanks for stopping by Thomas! I couldn’t agree more. I will check out your site!

  • Jake March 17, 2013, 10:04 pm

    I really enjoyed this one. When it comes to horror movies they just can’t seem to ever get it right these days and I thought this one did. It had an incredible amount of suspense and truly felt scary to me. I thought Ethan Hawke was great and played a character that I actually wanted to see survive in the end rather than hating every character and wanting them to die in the first 5 minutes. Guess this one just hit the right notes for me. For the record I don’t like the Paranormal movies so I had my doubts about this as well.

    • Griff March 18, 2013, 9:21 am

      Hi Jake,

      Thanks for the comment. I did like Ethan Hawke in this one. In fact the cast was pretty solid except for deputy dawg who would vacillate from wildly from Maxwell Smart to Sherlock Holmes.

  • Claratsi March 18, 2013, 1:30 am

    Ha, I.
    I’ve scheduled in a post of this today. Tbh I liked it more than yourself I think but some of the headlines as best horror in years are well of the mark. I don’t like gore, not because it scares me but it just doesn’t, so I like the scares in this as that’s more my juice. You will see my review hopefully but I thought it delivered its scares well but very very predictable. And the kids make up was crap, scarier at the end when they were putting their fingers to their lips, that was a creepy for me.

    • Griff March 18, 2013, 9:24 am

      Thanks for stopping by Claratsi! I will definitely check out your review.

  • wordschat March 18, 2013, 4:37 am

    Gotta love Ethan Hawke’s sweater. They spent so much on bad effects he had to borrow Mr. Rogers wardrobe. So many times I wanted to scream at the scream “just turn on flashlight dumb ass; call Deputy Dopey, call Stephen King for a real script!”. Donofrio was channelling his arrogant know it all Law and Order: CI. Check my review to see if I missed any more disses.

    • Adam March 18, 2013, 9:08 am

      Mark I am shocked you would not like his cardigan sweater. The cardigan is the greatest of all sweaters. ;-)

  • Chris March 18, 2013, 5:44 am

    This was a decent film! I have to admit I jumped a few times. Sure it has the usual family moving into a new haunted house and the kid draws scary pictures that predicts the outcome of the film. But it was scary. Especially the little brat that jumps out of the box.

    • Griff March 18, 2013, 9:26 am

      Thanks for the comment Chris! I have to admit it did make me jump a few times but this had the potential to turn into a really nice little thriller and instead it fell back on tricks they used back in the 50’s to get a scare.

  • Pete Turner (@ilovethatfilm) March 18, 2013, 7:05 am

    Total waste of Hawke and my time! Saw where it was going from the start and had a couple of good jumps but ultimately a missed opportunity.

    • Griff March 18, 2013, 9:27 am

      Thanks for the comment Pete! I think you just summed up how I felt about this in two sentences! lol

  • wordschat March 18, 2013, 9:17 am

    Back to the sweater; you know what they say about mock turtlenecks? People take one look then make fun of you. Same goes for this disturbingly bad flick.

    • Griff March 18, 2013, 9:29 am

      Lol, a turtleneck makes me fell like I am slowly being strangled to death all day by the weakest pair of hands ever. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Mark walker March 18, 2013, 9:19 am

    Could have been a great serial killer instead of lukewarm horror. Very nice review, man. I can’t argue with your take here at all.

    • Griff March 18, 2013, 9:33 am

      Thanks Mark! Yeah, it started off really strong the opening sequence with the hanging really made me think I was in for it. It was like a Manhunter meets 8mm combo. By the time he starts seeing bagel demons in the pool it had moved into the realm of the ridiculous.

  • Dan O. March 18, 2013, 11:58 am

    Good review. It’s a fun, and twisted horror movie, that ends pretty down-beat. But at least it’s always weird and scary, in it’s slight way.

  • Lights Camera Reaction March 20, 2013, 10:06 am

    This film had such potential, but it turned out to be one of the worst films of 2012 for me.

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