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.
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…
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.