Film: ‘Sinister’ brings chills … and a few yawns

By Nathan Gordon | | @GordonRises
Sinister | Directed by Scott Derickson | Rated R
RATING: 2.5/5

First Words
Over the past few Octobers the Paranormal Activity franchise has controlled the horror genre after it snatched the torch away from the Saw franchise. With Paranormal Activity 4 coming to rule the box office begging Oct. 19, it seems a little odd that Sinister, another “scary movie,” would come out so close knowing that Paranormal will steal it’s audience. Maybe the makers of Sinister (which include producers of Paranormal Activity) feel that have a strong competitor or are just hoping that viewers will be in the mood for more options to give them a scare this Halloween season.

Writer of unsolved crimes Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) moves his wife and two children into a new house where he plans on starting his next book. This book will be about what happened to a young girl after her family was murdered at, what is now, the Oswalts’ new house. Ellison doesn’t inform his family of the disturbing event that occurred at their new home. While unpacking, Ellison finds a box holding reels of film in the attic and discovers that those films can help him with the research for his story. But soon the films make him realize that the event he’s researching might be tied into other murders and something else entirely that could jeopardize the life of him and his family.

While movies don’t scare me to the point that I’m jumping around in my seat (and I’m not lying either), Sinister did bring a few chills to my body, which is a good thing since the movies intent to attempt to scare. For the most part, Sinister didn’t use slamming door or the slow panning of the camera until someone appears techniques to get their scares. The film used a creepy music selection for their score, disturbing Super 8 films, and a borderline frightening antagonist named Bughuul (Nicholas King) to terrify viewers. It’s refreshing to see horror movies sway away from the norm to get scares. Sinister even limited the amount of violence to a very minimum which is something movies in its genre don’t do much lately.

While there were problems with the story, that I’ll mention later, the idea was something that plays well for the genre. A writer of novels looking to the solve mystery of a missing person while the rest of the missing persons family was murder and the writer is using old home movies to solve the mystery sounds interesting to me.

I mentioned that the idea, or the plot, of the movie stood out to me, I do have a big problem with how it was developed. The passing of the movie was entirely too slow but I guess that’s what the film had to sacrifice in order to stay true to the type of film it was trying to be. Still, there has to be a better way to make a movie, nearing 2 hours, have some excitement happen more often than not. This problem really brought the film down a few notches. Also, how elements of the story were explained left me thinking harder than I should have had to once the movie ended. Once the end of the movie hits, I comes abruptly even with the setup it gives. A better and clearer explanation of important elements of the plot would have done a lot for the film. I wish I could go into detail with what I’m talking about the less you know about “scary movies” the better.

Last Words
Sinister steps the horror genre forward somewhat in a way Paranormal Activity did when it was first released, but struggles to completely hold your attention with several slow paced moments. Only time will tell if it will become forgettable with Paranormal Activity 4 literally days away.


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