Paranormal & Supernatural in Review: Sinister (2012)
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, James Ransone, Fred Dalton Thompson, Michael Hall D’Addario, Clare Foley, and Vincent D’Onofrio.
Written By: Scott Derrickson, and C. Robert Cargill
Directed By: Scott Derrickson
Review By: Joshua Macmillan
Synopsis: A washed up true-crime author moves his family into the home of a mysterious murder. While researching the crime, he finds a mysterious box in the attic full of super 8 home videos depicting multiple grisly homicides, leading the author down a path he is not prepared to take.
2012 was a weird year for the horror genre. We saw Sinister release, as well as Excision, American Mary, The Collection, The Possession, and many others- most of which fell below the mark and found themselves in the realm of obscurity. Sinister was one of the few that didn’t fall to the wayside, instead it was one of the best horror films of the year if you look at the “mainstream” releases.
Sinister has a way of really getting under the skin using simple tactics. While nothing in this film is new for the horror genre, Sinister takes the tropes we have seen time and time again and puts a nice spin on them, blending found-footage with traditional cinematography and utilizing a great sound design, even the cheapest jump scares feel earned.
The writing of Sinister is good, keeping our attention and maintaining the plot, peppering in some fun, tense moments throughout and the film doesn’t over stay its welcome at all. In fact, I felt the film could have been an additional twenty minutes. I was completely enamored with the dynamics between ALL the characters. Every cast member pulls their own weight and delivers solid performances, most notable is Ethan Hawke.
Ethan Hawke delivers a performance that is truly memorable as an author who at one time had fame, but that fame has faltered, and he is desperate to find another fifteen minutes with the release of his new book. As a writer, his performance resonated with me and for this viewing I was able to put myself into the film and found I was still fully invested after having seen this numerous times.
As an avid genre fan, I am jaded to most mainstream films, but I have found that I come back to them a year or two later and find that they are actually a lot more interesting than I originally remembered them being. This is not the case with Sinister, I have returned time after time to this film and still find it unsettling. Sure, the jump scares are not effective after multiple viewings but the atmosphere and the performances from the cast keeps me coming back.
Scott Derrickson does an excellent job directing this film. From his long shots to his close-ups he makes us feel like we are right there with actors and experiencing the same things. His previous film, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is another example of how talented the director is and Sinister is a worthy follow-up to that film.
I mentioned above that Derrickson blends found-footage in with traditional cinematography, the found-footage pieces in this film are completely unsettling. One of them- the lawn mower bit- has one of my favorite jump-scares in modern horror. Hawke’s character finds a box of old super 8 films and as he watches them, we are watching them as well and it is truly unsettling. Even now with having seen this film multiple times, the imagery from those shorts are still just as haunting. For that alone I can recommend the film.
We have all seen the typical ghost and paranormal movie and pitched a collective groan at the same things being done over and over, this film does those same things, but it is the delivery and the skill behind the camera that makes this film stand out amongst the others as one of the very best. Unfortunately, I have not seen its sequel but after watching this film for this review I will be seeking it out to see if they can maintain the atmosphere and the sense of dread that the cast and crew had on this one.
So, I will go on record and recommend this film. It doesn’t matter if you are a jaded horror fan, or a newbie to the genre- there is something here that everyone can enjoy. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it streaming anywhere so if you are interested in seeing it you will have to buy it but the film is worth the cost of a Blu-ray. At this point you can probably find it in a discount bin at Wal-Mart, I highly recommend digging a copy of Sinister out and adding it to your collection and your horror rotation!
My name is Joshua Macmillan, I am an author of horror and dark fiction. My first publication is a short story within the 13:Night Terrors anthology published by Limitless Publishing! I am currently working on my first novel and plan to have as many short stories published as possible while I work on the novel! I look forward to hearing from you guys! You can find me on Facebook and Twitter, as well as email @ firstname.lastname@example.org.