Sinister is the story of Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), a true-crime novelist who hit it big right out of the gate and is trying desperately to replicate his previous success. Ellison has just moved his entire family to a new home–which happens to also be a former crime scene–in the name of research. His last two books were flops and he can feel his fame fading fast so he’s wiling to do whatever is necessary to churn out another hit.
While unpacking, Ellison finds a single, abandoned box in his otherwise empty and dark attic. This mysterious box contains several Super 8 films and a projector. Immediately, Ellison sets up the projector and begins watching. Entire families die, on film, as Ellison downs entire bottles of whiskey so he can watch them perish. He think’s he’s struck gold, but instead he’s sucked into a situation far worse than he could fathom.
Scott Derrickson (Writer/Director) doesn’t just serve up a gory slasher film here, he delves into the super natural with Sinister. And while Halloween is in the air and you fancy a good scare and that is understandable:
I would advise against spending your hard-earned cash and expending the effort to get to a theater and deal with the unruly masses, in order to watch Sinister.
While Ethan Hawke does a good job portraying a self-absorbed writer, he alone cannot make or break a horror film. Also, while there’s a lot of snuff-like footage, intense gore and plenty of jump scares; that simply doesn’t cut it anymore, Hollywood. It’s clear that Sinister was intended to be an edgy entry into the horror genre, but unfortunately it just comes up short.
Derrickson did a fine job building and maintaining tension throughout, but failed at establishing a solid climax due to overuse of shock horror. Additionally the writing was shoddy at best. It felt as if the screenwriters weren’t even trying and that’s a party foul in my book. You simply cannot write a scene where Ellison is storming about his home with a bat, tearing stuff up and expect me to believe no one else in the house hears a peep; especially when later on, the crackling of a fire in the backyard is enough to rouse his wife Tracy (Juliet Rylance), from sleep.
While the supernatural aspect of the movie piqued my interest, it wasn’t sufficiently developed in the story to be effective. The supernatural is more of a reason here than a character and I suspect that this is the movie’s biggest downfall. Well, there’s that, the bad makeup and mediocre acting. It’s unfortunate because Sinister had potential in it’s intriguing plot, but the failure to back that with solid writing and attention to cinematic detail brings the film down. The sporadic comic relief was pretty good, but a lot of OK does not equal great.
Sinister (2012) – C-
C- = A whole lot of OK does not equal great; or even good for that matter.