Sinister (Scott Derrickson 2012)

Welcome to Movies for Halloween Bonus Edition: Part 2: Return to Bonus edition. This Film is not on the list but I saw it in theaters this weekend and thought I’d write a review for it.

So it’s about 2 A.M. as I am writing this and I just got back from seeing the movie Sinister at the good ole cinema and it left quite an impression on me. First off this movie was pretty damn scary. It’s one of those movie that stay with you when the lights finally come back on at the end. You can always tell by that moment how good a movie was. The hair on the back of my neck was still standing up well into the parking lot.

This movie has a lot of typical annoying horror movie behavior but that can easily be forgiven. It usually is among the horror viewer. Not only does the main character like to investigate creepy shit and then find said creepy shit and never tell anyone about it, while he does it he never seems to want to turn on the lights while doing so. (who can blame him though electricity is fucking expensive these days) These extremely dark scenes really contribute to the atmosphere of the film. Much like in Neil Marshal’s The Descent but to a lesser extent. This film also has great cinematography while only serves to contribute to the sense of terror throughout the film. There is one scene in particular right when the shit starts to hit the fan so to speak that uses long steadicam shots following our main character down the hall ways of his pitch black house. I don’t wanna give this scene away but you will most likely know it when you see it. It is one of the more frightening scenes in the movie.

The plot is also just plain creepy and makes a shift from the natural to the supernatural in a way that I really enjoyed. I really didn’t know much about this movie going into it so I had no idea if it was going to be a supernatural horror or not. The plot is that of a washed up true crime novel author that is trying to recapture the success of a book he wrote a decade ago. He moves his family to a small town where the murder that is the subject of his next book took place. What he doesn’t tell his family is that the house that they are moving into is the very same house where the murder took place. He then finds a box of old 8mm home movie in the attic that depict graphic murders including the one that he is writing his book about. Instead of calling police to report the new evidence he decides to figure it all out himself because, hey it would make a great true crime book right? We then get to follow the main character on his investigation that becomes more and more disturbing as more information comes to light. We see him get consumed by the mystery and we are consumed right alone with him. The whole story also has a looming sense of doom to it. Through out the film you slowly realize that it is not going to end well for these characters and we can do nothing but watch it happen. It sort of reminds me of the novel The Ruins Scott Smith. (which is the shit. I highly recommend the book, the film adaptation sucks hard compared to the novel)

Another unique thing that I like about this film is that probably around 80% of all the scenes are just us watching the main character, played by Ethan Hawk, unraveling this disturbing web of murders. So much of the film rests on the ability of this one character to hold our attention and bring us along on the road to obsession. Ethan Hawk does a great job of this. You actually feel yourself being drawn into the whole mess just as much as he is. When he is investigating creepy shit going on in his house you feel like it is your own house and you are right along side of him.

This film also uses found footage sequences to terrifying effect but not completely relying on them like so many of the horror films today that they seem to make in some lame ass factory somewhere, probably in Utah. It’s has traditional story telling but uses found footage to enhance the story, which is great because it is really the best of both worlds. You get the really strong scares from the restricted narration of the found footage but you don’t have to sit through prolonged scenes using the technique that aren’t scary and do little to build tension. Lets be honest watching many found footage films these days is exhausting. Some scenes in the Paranormal Activity franchise have all the thrills of sitting and watching fucking surveillance footage from a bank or some equally boring shit.

All in all I thought this movie was great and it is money well spent to go see it in theaters, which is really the most exciting way to watch horror films provided you go when there aren’t too many goddamned teenagers screaming and making all kinds of noise because the consideration for fellow human beings part of their brain has yet to develop. Anyways that’s a whole other subject. Definitely see this movie. 8.5/10

-Danny

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