Yell! Magazine’s review of Sinister (2012):
Halloween’s a comin’, and movie theaters world-wide are host to the competing forces of horror directors as they flood the market with their latest and greatest. Afterward, these same directors will once again retire away into some dark crevice, where they’ll wait until next autumn.
First up in this season’s cinematic offerings is Sinister. This is the tale of a self-absorbed true-crime writer as he gets caught up in a string of murders that he’s trying to investigate — and he ends up biting off far more than he can chew.
Yes, it might sound banal. It might even sound like six different movies you’ve already seen, but I’ll put it right out there from the get-go that Sinister might be one of the more solid horror offerings that we’ve seen this year. Where lesser films rely on cheap jump-scare tactics, Sinister builds a thick atmosphere that leaves you stuck with the horrors of your own imagination. It treats its audience with tasteful restraint, and at the very least, gives its protagonist a reason to be remarkably stupid.
He’s got bats in his belfry, you see. He’s borderline insane. Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is obsessed with hitting it big with his next work. He’s so obsessed, in fact, that he moves into a house whose previous tenants were hung in the backyard. To make his actions even more questionable, he doesn’t tell his family about the house’s history. He finds snakes, scorpions, and a box that’s chock-full of snuff films in his attic, and instead of screaming and peeing himself, he takes it upon himself to write a friggin’ book about it.
Eventually, he loses himself in the pursuit of finding out who has been producing these films and why. His wife (Juliet Rylance) becomes alienated and his son Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario) has night terrors. His daughter Ashley (Clare Foley) starts ranting about “talking dead girls” and, ultimately, Ellison just continues in his single-minded quest.
“Curiosity killed the cat, and now it’s come back for me!”
Normally, it’s easy to scoff at protagonists who seem to be attached to a set of rails that lead to their doom, but all the strange things that happen to Oswalt can be written off as familial stress, or simple Grade A insanity. As stated earlier, Sinister has a slow buildup and favors patience and atmosphere over shock and awe, so the idea that our hapless hero is just feeling a hard dose of work-related stress isn’t too far of a stretch.
Continue reading the Sinister (2012) review after the jump…
- Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
- Year Released:
- 12 October 2012
- Scott Derrickson
- Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson, Michael Hall D’Addario, Clare Foley, and James Ransone
- Thriller, Horror
- Official URL:
- Sinister Official Site