FILM REVIEW: Sinister (2012)

Ethan Hawke is the ultimate movie wuss. I feel like every time I see him in a film...he's getting his ass kicked or he's hogtied or he's got a gun in his mouth. This time around, he's up against the supernatural. And things aren't looking too good for Mr. Hawke.

Sinister  is the new film from Scott Derrickson, whom you may recall directed The Exorcism of Emily Rose  and Hellraiser: Inferno. Derrickson is one of those directors still looking for a big score. That big film that puts him over the top. He may have found that very film with Sinister.

You might say that Sinister  is a found footage film in the truest sense of the word. Because, well, Hawke's character, Ellison Osborne, finds a box filled with various footage of the disturbing kind. You see, Ellison happens to be a true crime novelist who is moving his family into the former home of a murdered family. And in true douchebag fashion, he doesn't include his family on those particular grisly details. You get the sense that Ellison is this self-absorbed prick that doesn't give two fucks about the common sense safety of moving his precious family into a home where the previous homeowners were found hanging from a tree in the backyard. So, it's kind of hard to root for this Ellison guy. Especially given the fact that he doesn't necessarily care for changing his dingy sweater for the entire film. He's a pretentious wallabee-wearing a-hole eager to write his next big book.

His wife, Tracy (played by Juliet Rylance), is almost just as guilty as she pretty much turns a blind eye to Ellison's douchery throughout the entire running time and only snaps out of her subservience in time for a convenient speech about how she and the kids matter most. It's this kind of obvious character exposition that keeps the film from achieving great heights.

Speaking of character exposition. That's probably my biggest gripe of the film. Especially when Sinister  calls for you to drop your jaw in astonishment at what you're witnessing up on the big screen in the third act. Only, your jaw doesn't drop nearly as much as it should've because you never really spend any time with a certain character in the film that you are supposed to be shocked at. Probably because most of the screen time is devoted to Ellison's douchery.

Still, Sinister  works.

It opens on the kind of imagery that really sticks in your head. And it takes you further into what it introduces. It strings together all the found footage sequences nicely, so that you are jilted once you see a drowning here or a lawn mower there. Its the kind of film that delivers it's jump scares and disturbing images appropriately because of the path it is leading you down. You kind of get caught up in all of it's spook house fun.

Without revealing anything important, there's one scene that employs "lost souls" running around the house taunting Ellison, that actually comes across pretty entertaining on a Guillermo Del Toro level.

The main supernatural force of the film is a Pagan eater of children named Bagul (as described by a shoe-horned Vincent D'Onofrio)...or as the kids dub him, Mr. Boogie. Get down, get down. Sorry. The name Mr. Boogie does tend to inspire notions of burning the dance floor. He's actually pretty cool and menacing, tho. I could see the studio doing more films like this to try and capitalize on his effectiveness. Perhaps...Sinister 2: Supernatural Boogie-loo? That was pretty bad...huh?

Oh...and I have to mention the soundtrack and the overall look of the film. The Super 8 footage is done very nicely and melds together seamlessly with the traditional cinematography. And the sound mixing and music work well together with the film's creepiness...not ever making it all feel overt in any way.

Sinister is a very capable horror film full of unique ideas and creepy pacing. In a world full of remakes and sequels and's nice to see a film that incorporates an original screenplay. It's not a perfect horror film, by any means...but, it may very well give you night terrors.

Thanks for reading,