Sinister (2012)

October 10, 2012 By Mike B
Movie Review

Sinister film review

What Worked?

There are plenty of horror movies that revolve around writers, mainly because the drive of a writer to battle that dreaded blank page can be truly frightening. Sinister is a story about a true-crime writer named Ellison, played by Ethan Hawke, that goes a bit method in the way he captures his stories: visiting the sights of the grisly murders and investigating them further. This time around, Ellison wants to take it a step further, so he moves himself and his family to a house where the previous family was hung in the backyard.

Director Scott Derrickson creates a film that plays out like a high-class horror walkthrough at an amusement park. The script is riddled with horror film cliches, but what Derrickson does to overcome this is infuse the film with creative, unsettling visuals. Ellison finds a box of home movies that are genuinely disturbing, and those clips of the Super 8 celluloid are the visual highlights of the film. The first canister of film, entitled “hanging out,” depicts a family of four with their heads bagged, hanging from the tree in their backyard. In each film is a mysterious figure called Bagul, or “Mr. Boogie,” and his image is inserted into your mind once you see him, causing you to look for him in the entire film. There’s also some dark humor going on that lightens up Sinister. Speaking of dark, the entire film is blanketed in the dark, turning up the tension in every scene.

Past the horror, there is a story about an author that is struggling to be somebody again. Ethan Hawke does a tremendous job as Ellison, as he desperately tries to extend the 15 minutes of fame he received for the book that got ¬†him on the map. There’s a desperation in Hawke’s mannerisms and that desperation keeps pushing him to dig deeper into the mysteries of the “home videos,” showing the audience how far a human being will go to gain recognition for their talent. When Hawke’s Ellison refers to the legacy that he’s trying to leave behind, you can see through the look in his eyes that he’s completely jumbled his¬†priorities. Ellison takes the ride, and tests just how far his desperation will take him.

Sinister isn’t the best Horror film that’s come out in awhile like others are suggesting, but it’s one that works rather well for what it is. Ethan Hawke’s performance, along with the visuals, makes the film better than it should be. If you’re looking for a solid Horror flick, Sinister is a safe scare; you’ll be wrapped up in it in the theater, but you’ll walk out leaving it behind.

Potential Drawbacks:

The film is chock-full of horror film cliches. There’s nothing fresh about the horror storyline, and you can almost anticipate everything that’s going to happen. More than half the scares feel contrived, and there are one too many jump scares.

The mysterious figure, named Bagul, isn’t designed very well, as it looks like a mix of the Joker, the Jigsaw doll, and the Crow; in short, it looks like too many other characters. Bagul also isn’t developed very well, and his appearances aren’t very memorable.

Some may think that the reasons for everything that goes on, the unraveling of the mystery, is quite silly and they wouldn’t be wrong. It has a lot to do with more cliche deity stories and more recycled material. The ending that reveals all also isn’t very surprising.

Film Recommendations:

Stir of Echoes

The Orphanage



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