Monday, October 29, 2012



Directed by Scott Derrickson
Written by Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill

     The horror film has been around for a long time, since the dawn of cinema. But lately, the genre has not been very fulfilling and has consistently been disappointing. To be honest, the last decent and thoroughly exciting and frightening horror film I remeber seeing was Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later. It was tense, it was one of the first films shot digitally and it was refreshing to see a magnificent director like Mr. Boyle pull out all the stops to reinvent the zombie film in a new an exciting way. That was great horror. I had high, but not ecstatic hopes for Scott Derrickson's Sinister hearing all of the positive buzz coming out of its premiere at the 2012 South by Southwest Festival in Austin. Unfortunately, the film was disappointing. Not a complete failure, but it just seemed like something I've seen before a dozen times and although the atmosphere and mood were good, the end result was unfulfilled.
     The film follows true-crime author Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) has he moves his family into a house where the previously family was murdered in the backyard with the intentions to uncover and research the events for his upcoming book. Oswalt puts his family at risk, by first moving them to a house with an awful past, but by not telling his wife or kids that this house was the place of an egregious act of murder. He discovers a box of dated Super 8 tapes and a projection machine and as he begins to watch these films he, with the help of a local police deputy (James Ransone) and later with the assistance of a college Professor (Vincent D'Onofrio) begins to unravel the connections and ritualistic murders of the previous families. It is a good set up and the story doesn't dwell in gore and high graphic nature, but becomes muddled in its own attempt at cheap scare tactics and a messy supernatural presence. Mr. Oswalt begins to go through strange occurrences and happenings at his house and through the found footage he sees a ghastly figure that is present in each film. The true-crime author should have avoided an attempt at the book at the residence, moved out and wrote it from a distance. Its ill-advised to continue his research at the former residence of one of the victims with these fearful acts being perpetrated on his family. Get out.
     Ethan Hawke's talent and fluid acting saves the movie from being a complete bore and the electro-techno music gives a fearful and industrial edge to the film. But when your sitting in the theater desperately waiting for the movie to end its a bad sign. The movie felt like a been-there done-that found footage film although the director Scott Derrickson definitely has good style and creates a creepy atmosphere. In the end though, the ghoulish figure that is murdering these families over the last half-decade turns out to be a disappointing attempt at the supernatural being present in the real.
     Sinister is with no reservations not one of the worst horror or supernatural horror films I've seen, but a prolonged script that tends to droll and become restlessly boring doesn't leave for a satisfying conclusion. The mood and technique is there, the music is there, but in the end, an unfulfilled and disappointing reason to why this is happening and more importantly to how this is happening hurts the overall results. The best thing going in horror cinema and production is the AMC series The Walking Dead. It's fresh, scary and full of complex characters and situations. I wouldn't say this is a terrible horror film, but its not something popping with new ideas either.

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