‘Sinister’ is a classically low-tech horror movie about a writer investigating his next crime novel but finds more than he bargained for.
Horror movies are meant to be scary in the same way a comedy should make you laugh. What is a scary movie if it doesn't scare the audience? Sinister proves this can be done without CGI or big over-thought villains. It's simple but will have even the most seasoned horror fan jumping in their seat.
Ellison (Ethan Hawke) is a true crime writer. He had his 15 minutes of fame 10 years ago and has been chasing the next big hit ever since. But he has a good feeling about this one. Secretly moving his family into the house in which a family was murdered and a little girl kidnapped, Ellison becomes consumed with the case. Discovering a mysterious box labeled "home movies," he is invited into the world of a serial killer. But the closer he gets to the murders, the more he notices strange things happening around the house that threaten the safety of his family.
This is a throwback to old school horror. The atmosphere is established via the moody soundtrack, which blurs the line between narrative and external sounds. It matches each scene perfectly, darkening the eerie cloud already hanging over the characters. There is no technological brilliance or slight of hand behind the scares. Most of them are good old fashioned jump scares. Even though some of them are predictable, they are generally followed by some other unexpected fright. Between the tense atmosphere and the constant anticipation that something scary is about to happen, this film lives up to its title as it gradually transitions from sudden scares to lingering fear.
In addition to being a scary free-for-all, the movie is also a mystery that is slowly unraveled as the story progresses. The opening scene immediately sets the tone by playing a portion of one of the Super 8 pictures and continuing as an intriguing twist on the found footage genre. What starts as the investigation of one tragedy becomes the exploration of a series of connected grisly crimes. Each movie uncovers a new piece of the puzzle, and each clue is more disturbing than the one that preceded it. All is revealed at the end though several theories remain in play until the last possible moment.
Little else can or should be said, except that this film gets it right.
Director:Scott Derrickson Starring:Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance and James Ransone