Monday, December 8, 2014

Quick Cut Review - "Sinister"

Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance and Fred Dalton Thompson
Rated: R
Runtime: 1 hour 50 minutes  
Release Date: October 12, 2012

Before watching Sinsiter you should ask yourself one question. Do you like your horror movies slow, methodical and completely predictable? If so then Sinister will be right up your alley and if not, you might want to skip it and seek out something more traditional like a Saw, Friday the 13th or Scream. It's not so much that the film will bore you, well...maybe, but more about how the end just doesn't justify the means getting there.

Director Scott Derrickson certainly brings a lot style and atmosphere to this story about crime novelist Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) who likes to move his family into the homes of recent deceased victims of mysterious and heinous murders. There is a melancholy that pervades over every inch of the frame that adds an immense level of despair to the film that only gets thicker and thicker as Ellison delves deeper into the serial murder case he has discovered through a series of mysterious 8mm reels he conveniently finds in the attic of the barren house.

Each time he sits down in his private working room, loads up the next 8mm snuff film and prepares to see evil incarnate , you will also begin to fell as though you yourself are right there in that room with him. As he continues watching each film you will begin feeling just as emotionally disturbed as him as you watch the tragic events unfold. But that feeling may be a bit too effective as the film begins to rely solely on the shock factor of each new film he plays. Sadly though that is best (or worst depending on your tastes) the film has to offer.

As the mystery unravels it becomes readily apparent that the one and only trick it has up its sleeve is nothing more than a lonely road leading straight to predictability city. Once you have figured out how this story will end, and chances are you will figure it out way earlier than you would like, all the scenes with Ellison watching his snuff films and all the red herrings just becomes inconsequential (and in the case of the snuff films a bit too dreadful to enjoy). It doesn't help matters that our main character is sort of an idiot who can't see where this is all heading.

Is Sinister a bad film? Not really, but whether or not it is worth your time is another matter entirely. As mentioned there is a ton of creepy atmosphere to soak in but when it comes to story and character the film really drops the ball. If you want a film that does creepy well and offers some great characters and a worthy story to boot, I recommend Insidious or even it's far different but equally successful sequel. Skip this one unless you are a fan of watching other people sit in dark rooms and watch snuff films until they themselves get snuffed.


Scott Derrickson is a talented director (which will hopefully come to fruition with his work on Marvel's Doctor Strange), but there is only so much someone can do with a script riddled with poorly written characters and saddled with an extremely predictable outcome. It's not horrible, but these days you need to be more than just passable to be worth anyones time or effort.

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