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Sinister (2012)

tomatometer

63

Average Rating: 6.2/10
Reviews Counted: 132
Fresh: 83 | Rotten: 49

Its plot hinges on typically implausible horror-movie behavior and recycles countless genre cliches, but Sinister delivers a surprising number of fresh, diabolical twists.

48

Average Rating: 6/10
Critic Reviews: 25
Fresh: 12 | Rotten: 13

Its plot hinges on typically implausible horror-movie behavior and recycles countless genre cliches, but Sinister delivers a surprising number of fresh, diabolical twists.

audience

61

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 74,479

My Rating

Movie Info

Sinister is a frightening new thriller from the producer of the Paranormal Activity films and the writer-director of The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Ethan Hawke plays a true crime novelist who discovers a box of mysterious, disturbing home movies that plunge his family into a nightmarish experience of supernatural horror. -- (C) Summit

Feb 19, 2013

$48.1M

Lionsgate Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (132) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (83) | Rotten (49) | DVD (4)

More stupid than scary, Sinister can't even figure out who its real demon is.

October 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Comments (29)
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It comes together with a gruesome though excellent ending that some will find difficult to shake.

October 12, 2012 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A mixed bag of old-school and contemporary horror tricks that occasionally raises a hair prickle of intrigue.

October 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Comment (1)
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Despite some effective bumps and frights, and at least one memorable jolt from a full-throated D'Addario, "Sinister" is mainly just a series of snuff-reels with sick-joke titles ...

October 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Newsday
Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

C'mon, Ethan Hawke, you're better than this. Isn't there a "Before Sunset" sequel that needs your attention?

October 12, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Post | Comments (4)
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The hero of "Sinister" is almost unaccountably dumb. So, unfortunately, is the movie.

October 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Washington Post | Comments (13)
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In its own right, it's atmospheric, just not very memorable or scary.

January 7, 2014 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

One of the more authentically scary horror thrillers to haunt the screen in some time, a product of smart filmmaking, intriguing premise and a great lead performance from Ethan Hawke.

June 11, 2013 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

Highly effective, tense little fright rouser... If you're a horror fan, you won't be disappointed.

June 10, 2013 Full Review Source: 3AW

Hawke brings a gravitas to the role of parent and home protector that is of far greater interest than the film itself.

June 2, 2013 Full Review Source: The Sunday Age

Sinister is a subtle, poetic inquisition into the hypnotic power of horrific images ... oh and it's frightening entertainment at its best.

May 31, 2013 Full Review Source: 2UE That Movie Show
2UE That Movie Show

The much loved Ethan Hawke finds himself in a cheap and cheerless horror film watching images of murders and trying to find the boogie-man before the bad acting around him causes him too much grief.

May 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Screenwize
Screenwize

I especially like inventive horror concepts, or those with a bizarre sense of humour. Sinister has the former: inventiveness, which is increasingly difficult to create in a genre as enormous as horror

May 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Sinister overcomes an iffy script to reel you in with one seriously creepy vibe.

February 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Georgia Straight

It owes more than a debt of gratitude to The Shining and The Ring, among others, but Derrickson processes the chilling influences into an eerie experience mindful of the significance of projected images watched alone in the dark.

February 4, 2013 Full Review Source: Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

Is it scary? Creepy is more like it. "Sinister" makes you feel uneasy, lulls you into sleepy mode and then slaps you with a couple of cheap scares.

November 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Chambers
Movie Chambers

Hawke is utterly convincing as the driven but dodgy writer and Derrickson has great fun infecting the quivering audience with his hero's creeping paranoia.

October 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Daily Star
Daily Star

Slow down the number of demonic spirit movies, start thinking twice before settling on the "kids are scary" idea again, and start coming up with something new.

October 28, 2012 Full Review Source: CinemaBlend.com
CinemaBlend.com

Ethan Hawke creates a believable character who wants to write a best seller, but that is the only thing in this movie that rings true or logical.

October 23, 2012 Full Review Source: jackiekcooper.com | Comments (3)
jackiekcooper.com

has the all too rare virtue of being a horror film with a fine gloss of originality and genuine surprise to it

October 22, 2012 Full Review Source: Killer Movie Reviews
Killer Movie Reviews

Scary but contrived... .

October 20, 2012 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Falls short of great horror

October 20, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

Derrickson is a sharp stylist who knows how to meld dreadful imagery with actual ideas that make his horror films more than just exercises in goose-the-audience manipulation

October 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Writer/director Scott Derrickson has a touch for using old horror movie tools to create new scares, and he also incorporates several interesting themes into Sinister.

October 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A most delicious kind of horror movie... gives us a nice adrenaline boost and otherwise doesn't linger.

October 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Writer-director Scott Derrickson does absolutely nothing right.

October 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

Audience Reviews for Sinister

It's been a long time since I can say that a horror flick instilled horror in me...but this one scared the beejeebers out of me. I was completely creeped out throughout the entire movie. Even the background music, and sound effects, were spooking me. I am most definitely going to have trouble sleeping with the lights off tonight. Yikes!
March 3, 2014
itsjustme2004

Super Reviewer

I was haunted by the ghostly snuff films; something about the scratchy old 8mm films and the satanic music which accompanies the images creeped me out. The rules of the cursed films is quite interesting when realized. Ehan Hawke's curiosity gets the better of him and his family. The plot of the tortured author is getting a bit tired. The boogedy demon in charge of the curse is quite freaky. Things tend to go to hell in the second half, but it fits with the curse. The scene of their boy in the box seemed like a tacked-on red herring to the real horrors. The internet expert and police assistant were a bit silly. The ending was no surprise with not enough tragedy shown to be considered a payoff after sitting through so many scenes of building creepiness.
January 4, 2014
YosemiteSamFan

Super Reviewer

A washed up true crime writer and his family move into a new house where he begins work on a story that he hopes will resurrect his career. After finding a box of super 8 film reels and a projector in the attic, he discovers that the reels are snuff movies, and that he and his family could now be in grave danger.

Taking inspiration from stuff like 8mm and various supernatural chillers, this is a surprisingly solid and effective horror film. While there are scenes of violence, it's not a gorefest, and, amazingly enough trades more in mood and atmosphere to deliver the scares over showing lots of bloodshed. I mean, there is violence, but they only show just enough to get the point across, and more importantly, use it as punctuation to a build up.

There are jump scares, maybe like a handful or so, but for the most part, they work well. Some fall flat, but they most work. One of the crucial elements that really makes this film genuinely eerie and creepy is the music. It's super moody, and pretty groovy. The cinematography is also quite good, and I loved the incorporation of the super 8 footage, though from a story perspective, I'm not sure why it had to be this specifically.

Another nitpicky kind of gripe I have is the film's title. Why call it this? The word sinister isn't said in the movie, but I guess it does fit, if you look at the nature of what happens as being sinister. Other than that though, they could have gone with a better title.

The performances are fine, and the film is well cast. The characters are generally pretty smart, and there are arcs and development, so that's good. The film is generally pretty well written and thought out, and I appreciated that it didn't come off as stupid or dumbed down.

All in all, this is a pretty successful film. It's creepy, fairly intense and disturbing at times, and genuinely quite compelling. Give it a watch.

P.S. There's also a pretty sick sense of humor in places too, which I thought was kinda funny.
October 25, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

The classical Stephen King-like setup of a writer in retreat working on a new novel, combined with "eyewitness procedurals" like Coppola's The Conversation or De Palma's Blow out, and benefited immensely by Ethan Hawke's disturbed performance. A shame about the third act, when the initial subtle and creepy atmosphere is thrown away in favor of low rent and silly trickeries.
September 2, 2013
pier007

Super Reviewer

    1. Ellison Oswalt: Bad things happen to good people and they still have to have their story told.
    – Submitted by Frances H (4 months ago)
    1. Ellison: Tracy, nobody died here. It's not like we're sleeping where somebody was killed or they had to wipe blood off the walls for the open house.
    2. Tracy: You're saying it didn't happen here?
    3. Ellison: No, no. It happened in the backyard.
    4. Tracy: That is so sick! God, you think that makes a difference?
    – Submitted by David S (11 months ago)
    1. Ashley: Don't worry Daddy, I'll make you famous again.
    – Submitted by Andrew D (12 months ago)
    1. Tracy: There are plenty of other ways you can provide for this family.
    2. Ellison: Doing what? Teaching? Editing journalism textbooks? Don't you understand that writing is what gives my life meaning? These books are my legacy!
    3. Tracy: I have always supported you doing what you love, Ellison. But writing isn't the meaning of your life. You and me, right here, this marriage: that's the meaning of your life. And your legacy? That's Ashley and Trevor. Your kids are your legacy.
    – Submitted by Nadia S (15 months ago)
    1. Tracy: Do you understand what you've done this time? The kind of jeopardy you've put your children in? Your marriage?
    2. Ellison: Yes! I do!
    3. Tracy: Is there anything you won't do for your goddamn book?!
    – Submitted by Nadia S (15 months ago)
    1. Ellison: We have found you in a box...
    2. Trevor: A box?
    3. Ellison: Shall I tell you about that time you tried to pee in the dryer?
    – Submitted by Wouter V (17 months ago)
View all quotes (11)

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Latest News on Sinister

July 31, 2013:
Scott Derrickson Purchases Postmortal Rights
The "Sinister" director is working on an adaptation of Drew Magary's well-received debut novel.
May 29, 2013:
Joel McHale and Eric Bana Must Beware the Night
They'll play a couple of cops in Scott Derrickson's upcoming supernatural thriller.
March 4, 2013:
Sinister 2 in the Works
Mr. Boogie isn't finished with filmgoers yet.
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