I admit, I like my horror movies to be somewhat disturbing more than scary. I want to come away from a good horror film and question what the heck did I just witness and also to give me moments where I’m left wondering ‘did I just see what I thought I saw’ and let me tell you “Sinister” has many of those moments. This is, I think,, without a doubt the best horror film of the year. It had it’s share of scary moments but most of all this movie was very horrifying and disturbing.
The movie starts off right away with a family of four being hung. This is shown as an 8mm film and it almost gives you a feeling that you are watching some sort of snuff film. It was a pretty disturbing opening and one of the more disturbing openings to any movie I have seen lately. The story of the movie goes something like this. Ethan Hawke plays Ellison Oswalt, a floundering true crime writer fixing to write his next be book about the killings of this local family and their missing daughter. He hasn’t told his wife that he is moving them into the actual house where the murders happened. He wants to be in as deep as he can to ensure that he writes the best novel of his career. He later finds an old 8mm player and some family movies shot on 8mm. These appear to be just family fun happenings until he witnesses what really happened to these families. This is where the movie becomes very disturbing. The deaths of the families, which get showed over and over again give the viewers the feeling of being extremely uncomfortable and the movie starts to become very unnerving.
Oswalt’s life starts to quickly spiral into his own world of madness as he tries to figure out what is going on not only with his life but the house as well. He starts to hear bumps in the night. The project comes on by itself. He knows he hears footsteps throughout the house but can never find anything that causes them. Later he enlists the help of a local deputy, who not only knows his stuff but is star truck to have this well known author in his town. The story is a slow build up to a very terrifying ending that brilliantly brought everything together.
Director Scott Derrickson from “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” fame directs this movie perfectly. His slow moving camera, the great framing of the scenes, the building up of pure terror and dismay. He really knows how to make an audience member not only feel uncomfortable with what is being presented but knows how to give them chills and make things unnerving. He doesn’t make the movie as scary as it could have been but what he brings is a brilliance in atmosphere as well as beautiful performances from all of the actors, especially Hawke and Juliet Rylance who places Tracy, the doubting wife and mother. I loved Emily Rose and I absolutely loved his movie.
All though out the movie I kept saying to myself, this is how you make a great horror movie. You don’t need a big budget. You don’t need high end special effects, not tons of gore or sex or gratuitous violence. You get a director that understands the genre and great actors and a good engaging story. This movie had everything needed to make a great scary, disturbing picture. The story is kind of straight forward but the pay off makes everything worth while.
I easily give this movie 5 stars out of 5. It really chilled me to the bone and creeped the hell out of me. I highly recommend this to anyone who not only wants to see a fabulous movie but a well crafted horror film, which usually doesn’t happen too often in North America. If you want to be scared and disturbed and are looking for a great Halloween movie to take in this season make it “Sinister”, you won’t regret it. Just be warned, it is a slow building movie but that is one of it;s many charms. Till next time my friends.