As most of you know I have a healthy aversion to horror films. I am the kind of person who get scared easily, and it takes me 3-4 days to recover after a horror film. I have been hearing a lot about Sinister for the past 2 years, but could not gather courage to watch it. Finally I watched it this weekend; I must say it was a good decision.
Sinister begins with a chilling scene of 4 people being hanged to a tree and it sets the tone for the rest of the movie. As the narrative progress we come to know the existence of more such videos and connection between all murders.
Sinister is not a horror movie which relies on so called boo moments to scare you. Here Scott Derrickson’s attempt is to create a film which is a mix of a typical horror film and found footage film.
Ethan Hawke plays a true crime author Ellison Oswal, whose last hit book came out 10 years ago. Ellison along with his wife and two kids move into a house where the victims were hanged. Soon he discovers a projector and film footage which shows the murder of various families. For the first 30-40 minutes I felt that Sinister is a thriller/mystery movie with the possibility of serial killer.
Soon the movie changes tracks with Ellison discovering his office room being unlocked mysteriously, also hearing banging noises from the attic, with his elder kid getting more terrorized at night regularly. Thankfully Scott Derrickson is not interested in cheap scares or gore.
Scott creates an atmosphere in the film; where you as the audience feel trapped in your own home. And his use of darkness in the film is nothing less than genius. There is a sense of the house being haunted, but it is never overtly done. Scott slowly but surely succeeds in building the tension in the film.
Scott also devotes times to develop his characters, like Elison who is still coping with fact that his best book might have been come out 10 years ago. Ellison is trying to find out the purpose and meaning of life, while doing so he might jeopardise his whole family and his marriage.
Ethan Hawke as the guy next door delivers a good performance, watch out for the scene in the movie where he argues about legacy and his purpose in life.
Scott delivers one of the finest horror movies in recent times, without resorting to gimmicks, gore or torture. He succeeds in creating a gripping horror movie in the interior of a home.
Incidentally a sequel to the film, Sinister 2 was released in the U.S on 21st August and has been more or less condemned by critics. This is a good example of how tough it is to make a good horror/supernatural film. By changing the director and lead actor you are only making the chances of coming up with a good film, all the more tougher in my opinion.