A writer determined to make another hit story moves into a new house. Unbeknownst of the dangers that lie ahead, he stumbles onto a disturbing set of Super 8 tapes containing horrific videos and crimes. Determined to uncover the mystery, he digs deep into a case that is far out of his reach.
This movie has seemed to split critics and audience members alike. It seems like either you hate this movie or you love this movie. I rarely hear any in-betweeners. I've heard that this is the cheesiest movie ever, but I've also heard it's the most disturbing. In my opinion, this movie is definitely more toward the disturbing side.
My favorite thing about this movie is the story. I love the mystery aspect and there was clearly a lot of effort put into the story. It's so disturbing and chilling that it leaves goosebumps down my spine. I had so much fun uncovering the mystery behind the scenes and the legend of Bughuul was an effective nightmare.
The movie is actually pretty disturbing. It sets the tone from the opening scene and it never manages to lose sight of what it is. The Super 8 tapes aren't over done and they are more than effective. They are definitely graphic in their own right, but they never show too much or too little. The scares in this movie were fairly effective for the most part, save for a few meaningless jump scares.
I actually really enjoyed the dialogue and the interaction among characters seemed really genuine and real. Ethan Hawke is a great actor and he really brought his character to life. He brought the emotion and conflict to his character and he really added a lot to the movie. The screenplay was well written and was a solid effort by the cast and crew.
The cinematography was clear and very well shot. All of the shots looked very pristine and a lot of the shots were great tone setters for the film. I liked the lighting and the atmosphere, and this is certainly a movie you shouldn't watch alone at night.
In the end, "Sinister" is a well made and disturbing horror film. I was very thrilled by this film and it's definitely one of the more respected horror films made out there.
It stars Ethan Hawke as Ellison Oswalt, a down-on-his luck writer who hasn't had a hit in more than a decade. True crime is his forte, but finding another story as subversively sordid as his last blockbuster has proven to be immensely difficult. "I'd rather cut my hands off than write a book for money," we witness him boasting in a press interview during his prime. But at this point, he's desperate for a little bit of green. His family is in the slums financially, and he'd do anything to discover his very own "In Cold Blood" styled tale and achieve notoriety again.
So he moves his clan to a welcoming house in the suburbs, much to the annoyance of his otherwise understanding wife (Juliet Rylance) and kids (Clare Foley and Michael Hall D'Addario). Ellison promises that their re-location is only temporary -- he's merely looking for some inspiration for his next #1 -- but his motivations are much darker than he lets on. Just months earlier, a family, the Stevensons, was simultaneously hanged in the backyard of their new home. The killer remains at large, and the youngest member of the murdered outlet, Stephanie, is missing. Ellison figures that getting as close as he can to the scene of the crime will rightfully win him back his former prosperity, even if he has to put his own family at risk in the process.
But only moments into "Sinister" does Ellison stumble upon a stack of Super 8 reels resting in the attic. Because any evidence is good evidence for a novel that's supposed to be revelatory, he pops them into a projector and sees where they take him. To his horror, each "home movie" in this box of treasures is a snuff movie, graphically showing various households being slaughtered in all sorts of nefarious ways. Dates range from 1966 to 2011 and an obvious pattern is murky. But Ellison is certain that he's struck gold for consuming reading material. Smile through the pains of such eerily understated titles as "Pool Party '66" to "Sleepy Time '98 and an immediate hit is surely inevitable.
Recklessness, however, is a trait that recurringly sets up the doom of horror movie characters -- karma always comes roaring back with vengeance, and to ignore pangs of common sense is to die. Recklessness is also the very thing that obstructs "Sinister" from unparalleled success. Since Ellison's ego knows no bounds -- the fact that he'd risk the lives of his family for fiscal accomplishment is deplorable -- he's a rather unlikable character, despite a solid portrayal by the dependably solid Hawke. And as "Sinister" is already far-reaching enough as it is, whether its ludicrousness is brought on by Ellison's being A-OK with living in a house decked out in snuff films or by the reality that when bumps in the night let themselves be known, no one bothers to turn on the lights as they stumble nervously through pitch-black hallways. The final nail in the coffin is the revealing just what the antagonist(s) looks like. Less is more, and showing too much can be inimical when it's not necessary to.
But for all its instances of bad judgment, "Sinister" is more bloodcurdling than it isn't -- the Super 8 shorts are terrifyingly shot, and as Hawke takes late-night trips to the attic night after night, with only a flashlight in hand, we're submerged in a kind of dread best exemplified by classics of "The Innocents's" state of mind. When a horror film's output is remarkable enough to inspire one to watch certain events behind their methodically placed hands, endless praise is the next place to go. Shame about its tonal blunders; several brilliant instances could have added up to something but are too individualistic to harmonize.
The build up of suspense over the course of the movie was really well done and there were moments of genuine turn-the-lights-back-on creepiness.
The ending was a true surprise, one that I wasn't sure if I liked at first, but the more I think about it, the more I can see that it was the perfect ending.
The one thing I will say, is that the film is a bit too dark. Not content or tone wise, literally. During many scenes of him being alone at night in the attic or on the hallway, it was hard to tell what was happening at times. Maybe it was the copy I had, but I feel like maybe that was the point? If so, maybe make it just light enough for us to see what's happening okay?