Customer Reviews: Sinister [Blu-ray]
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on February 1, 2013
Horror movies these days don't really scare people. The only horror movie to really creep someone out more recently is the
first Paranormal Activity. But that's now been done to death. All horror movies now a days are either remakes or go for shock and become what is the newer term, "torture porn", until now. Sinister came along just in time for all of us to get our
Halloween chills and scared the crap out of America. I have seen a lot of horror. I even go for those really bad SyFy B-rated
ones for laughs. The newer horror doesn't scare because it's predictable and instead it disgusts me. The over use of torture and gore that have nothing to do with the plot. Sinister however does something different. Ethan Hawke plays the character of a true crime writer desperate to live his glory days, almost at the cost of his family. And he plays it well. The violence that actually has to do with the plot was creatively filmed. And because the story was unique and not a rehash, the creepy atmosphere and scare wasn't predictable. Halloween 25 is predictable. Michael Myers is going after a family member. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is predicatble. Leatherface is going to kill people with a chainsaw. Saw 10 (or whatever number they are on
now) is going to torture people in weird contraptions. The list goes on and you get the drift..... With Sinister, I didn't even see this movie coming. The trailer gave nothing away. It scared me. And that is what a horror movie should do.
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on October 20, 2012
Director Scott Derrickson's latest entry into the horror genre, the aptly titled `Sinister', is an instant classic.

Egomaniacal true-crime novelist, Ellison Oswalt, moves his wife and two kids into the house where an unsettling murder involving a family of five has recently taken place. He plans to write about the incident and the missing child, who was apparently spared and kidnapped by the killer, hoping that he can solve the mystery without the help of the local authorities.

As he stores boxes in the attic, he finds several reels of Super 8 film and a projector. Each film contains increasingly graphic and macabre footage of a family being murdered. Upon further inspection, Ellison discovers that a pale, hollow-eyed figure can be seen lurking in the background in each one of the home movies. A pattern begins to emerge, as Ellison becomes consumed with the dark secrets that lie within the films. Further investigation confirms that there are demonic forces at work, and that Ellison may have opened a gateway that has placed his family in danger.

`Sinister' takes familiar themes and situations and spins them in entirely different directions, making the film unpredictable and highly unnerving as a result. The film score by Christopher Young is almost a character in and of itself. It accentuates the disturbing nature of the film, cranking the scares all the way up to eleven. Ethan Hawke delivers an extraordinarily nuanced performance, and this ranks among some of his best work. The rest of the cast is just as good, under the direction of Scott Derrickson, who pulls absolutely no punches for the entirety of the film. Where most directors would turn away from such material, Derrickson dives right in, creating a cinematic experience that will live forever in your memory.

`Sinister' is utterly disturbing and the best horror film that I have seen all year. Not for the squeamish, that's for damn sure.

Rated R for terror and violence. 110 minutes. Directed by Scott Derrickson. Released by Summit Entertainment.
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on December 13, 2012
This movie I have to say, is one of the best horror film's I have seen in theaters since "Orphan" (2009). I don't get scared easily and the movie brought chills down my spine!!! The dialogue in the film was good, the acting was much better than expected (I am a huge fan of Ethan Hawk from Day Breakers, the cinematography was perfect, the story definitely carried out smoothly, and the idea behind the movie and having a descent original supernatural climax was really what kept this movie on the edge of your seat! A lot of horror films in the past that are about supernatural things but end up having a human climax is disappointing to me in most movies (cry wolf, sorority row, etc). The ending really caught me off guard, and ended in a way that makes u feel cold and creeped out. This movie makes you think. I don't know how anyone wouldn't find this film creepy, or sick to say the least and if you don't think so then something is seriously wrong with you. Amazing film! Wish there was an extended cut, but o well! Very original and creepy. People don't seem to realize this kind of movie hasn't really been thought before (families dying together without any control) and it gives you a really bad feeling in your stomach.
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on October 26, 2012
For whatever reason, there is something eerie about old home video tapes, especially when unexplained and horrible things happen to the people in them. Ethan Hawke plays a crime novelist who writes about unsolved cases and puts an extra spin on his book by actually moving to the scene of the crime. He gets in a little over his head, though, when he moves into a house in which a family was recently found hanging from the limb of a large tree.

*SPOILER ALERT* As he searches for clues as to how this family died, he stumbles onto a box of old home movies that date back 30 years, and in each video, another killing took place. Hawke discovers a connection to the occult, but becomes even more confused when a series of supernatural events start to occur within the house. He enlists the help of a local deputy to track down details about each crime, and what he discovers, of course, sets the movie up for a twist at the end. The only thing lacking in this film was the ending, given the fact that Hawke's characler seemed so intelligent and determined during the first half of the film, only to become naive and forgetful during the latter stages. The film is not gory, but it does tend to stay with you after you leave the theater.
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on July 10, 2014
Okay, let me get one thing out of the way; except for a section where there was a power outage, WHY THE HECK DOESN'T HE JUST TURN ON THE LIGHTS IN THE HOUSE? Yes, the director wanted a different, darker look than a standard Hollywood film but it really pushed my suspended disbelief to the limit when, after several disturbing events, our protagonist wanders around in the near-pitch-black seemingly just to provide shadows for things to potentially hide in. Come ON! This was distracting for me, but, I feel this film gets so many things right in such a singular, tightly-reined way, my criticisms fall into the "well, nobody's perfect" zone. I'd give it 5 stars were it not for some distractingly dodgy makeup and some clunky, talky, and in my opinion unnecessary information-dumping. I found any plot holes to be small. Having said that, I was enthralled by this film. The Super 8 footage is INCREDIBLY DISTURBING and admirably this is due to what the viewer does NOT see. I'm still haunted by it days after watching the film. There are a blessed minimum of silly jump scares and overt cgi effects. However, it's Ethan Hawke who makes this whole thing work. He is SO inside the skin of his very rather unsympathetic character it's amazing. There is a scene where his character argues with his wife which is OUTSTANDINGLY real... just blew me away, and it could've gone so wrong had he not pitched his performance so well. Wisely, the action is mostly focused on the interior of the houses. The various red herrings are quite well-done without seeming unrealistic. And, THANK GOODNESS for once the whole thing doesn't climax with some stupid, cliché special effects fireball "confrontation". Dread is ratcheted up very, very slowly to excellent effect. Personally, I felt things were explained a bit too much towards the end, but, it was such a different sort of ending I was able to set this aside. The cinematography is incredible without drawing to much attention to itself. I recommend this film with the strong warning that the "home movie" scenes were VERY UPSETTING to watch. There was a reason for this, instead being pure excessive indulgence, but, I hadn't been this bothered by this sort of approach since way back in HENRY, PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER. Also, very terrible things are shown or implied to happen to children, so, if that's something you have difficulty setting aside afterward, you might want to skip this one.
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on June 14, 2013
Let's look at a brief history of what the horror films have brought us through the decades, shall we? After the Universal Monsters had all their eerie night in the dark, British sensibilities brought us the Gothic ghost horrors of the fifties and early sixties. Then the late sixties and seventies brought us a slate of movies involving secret satanic rituals and demonic possessions (which reflected real national fears of such societies according to polls at the time). The late seventies and eighties gave birth to the unstoppable killing machine of the slasher flicks and their near infinite variations. The nineties were a period of nostalgic retreads with the only lasting sub genre being the "found footage" films that splashed into widespread success with the hit The Blair Witch Project. Currently, Hollywood makes any variation or combination of the above sub genres- possession and found footage films clearly the most popular. Sinister says, "why not combine all of those genre's into one film." And it does it well. The film lives off the strength of Ethan Hawke's character, true crime fiction writer Ellison. It contains a powerful and compelling narrative that unfolds with the proper taunt amount of pacing, stronger than most horror films. It has some disturbingly real and grisly visuals unrestrained by its PG-13 rating thanks entirely to clever film making. While no horror movie ever really scares me, those images stuck with me which is a testament to its quality. The ending was telegraphed and the reveal of a certain supernatural element in the climax of the second act seemed technically lacking, but other than that the film is strong. Frankly, its probably one of my top ten horror films of the last decade... at least this week. All those lists are constantly fluctuating.
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on December 29, 2014
There are so many films like 'Sinister' being churned out, it would be easy to dismiss it as one more by-the-numbers haunted house flick. It manages to succeed where 99% of them fail, however, creating a sense of menace that builds steadily, with genuinely frightening moments and a satisfyingly horrific conclusion. But it's got plenty of faults, too. You will have your intelligence insulted on several occasions, unless you're one of the microcephalic crowd any aspiring box-office conqueror is forced to pander to (since you're taking the time to read and research before viewing, I'll assume you aren't); there will be creepy children drawing creepy pictures and wearing creepy pancake makeup, and every scary moment will be artificially augmented with sudden explosions of noise and music. Whatever. Any horror fans out there, regardless how discriminating their tastes might be, will have made their peace with such compromises long ago. This is not a horror classic, by any means, but it has flashes of inspiration. If you start watching 'Sinister' looking to make fun of a horror flick, you won't have any problems finding material. But if you go into it with your critical voice on 'mute', it's solid entertainment. My suggestion for anyone who fears they will be way too smart to enjoy 'Sinister', but are still going to watch it for some weird, sinister reason, is to get really drunk. If that option seems too extreme, try Quaaludes, barbiturates, or some other rarely prescribed drug that rock stars of the 1960's liked to kill themselves with. {NOTE: I'm obviously joking about the Quaaludes and whatnot, I just like the fontifical beauty of the name 'Quaaludes'. Try something safe instead, like Heroin).

True-crime writer Ellison Oswalt moves his unsuspecting family into a house that was the scene of a quadruple homicide, hoping to recharge his fading literary career. As they're moving in, he discovers a box in the attic that shouldn't be there. It contains a Super-8 film projector and several tins of reel-to-reel footage. Each film has a banal home movie title like 'Hanging Out', 'Family BBQ' or 'Pool Party', but contains footage of a family being murdered by the camera-man. Regardless what your feelings are about 'The Ring' (and the Japanese original, Ringu), the deadly videotape that was so central to the plot had to be deeply disturbing, and it was; similarly, there is an eerie, unnatural quality to every frame of Super-8 film in 'Sinister', and every time he turns on the projector, it inspires an anxious excitement. Like 'The Ring', a lot of the unease can be attributed to the soundtrack that accompanies the film; but while VHS tapes have sound, Super-8 does not.

Oswalt makes the decision to keep this discovery to himself; considering the fact that this means with-holding apparently vital evidence relating to a series of multiple homicides, this seems like a really bad idea. Ethan Hawke does an excellent job of making Oswalt believable and sympathetic, despite the terrible choices he makes at every critical juncture... the first one being to move into the house where an entire family was killed, without telling his wife. I didn't really buy the notion of a wife who lets her husband choose when and where they move, even letting him pick out the house - especially when he has a history of selecting prior homes based on their proximity to the grisly crime he's investigating. If Stephen King has taught us anything -- and in most cases he probably hasn't -- it's that when you're dealing with a thoroughly fictitious demon/deity that eats children, you need to make the human drama believable. {Also, it's a small detail, but the attic doesn't match the house; it belongs to a house with a roof that has gable ends, instead of the cottage-ends the exterior shots depict. And while I don't know Pennsylvania well, I'm fairly certain it has cold winters, making the apparent absence of insulation ill-advised; there doesn't even seem to be a thin layer in the ceiling, between the trusses and under the ancient-looking attic floor-boards. Whatever.}

The protagonist doesn't believe in the supernatural, which is fine, neither do I; still, after the third or fourth inexplicable and terrifying event, I'd have to make a serious reappraisal of my beliefs or my sanity. But Oswalt's determination to redeem his literary reputation with something as powerful as his first celebrated work of non-fiction pushes him to extremes. His version of Truman Capote's `In Cold Blood' or Norman Mailer's `The Executioner's Song' -- `Kentucky Blood' -- established him as a minor star, dedicated to exposing injustice. His subsequent work, however, resulted in controversy and negative publicity after a killer went free (likely inspired by Mailer's own experiences; he was instrumental in convincing a parole board to release a talented inmate with a violent history, and was held accountable by many when this parolee killed again).

Even though the reels were found together, the crime scenes contain the same cryptic symbols, and the films were all apparently made by the same person or people, a great deal of time has elapsed between each incident, with the first dating back to the sixties, and the last one in 2011. As the proof keeps piling up that a supernatural entity is behind the killings, and that his own family might be the next link in the chain, Ellison doesn't get worried enough, given the crazy crap he's witnessed. There are plenty of ominous clues that don't bode well for the Oswalt's: in all of the murders, one child escapes the carnage, but disappears; their son has a habit of doing extremely creepy s**t while sleeping, like crawling into a cardboard box and then moaning, his eyes glazed over like a corpse; their daughter likes to draw on the walls, and whenever a kid picks up a crayon in a horror movie, it's never good.

`Sinister' is not unique or original... in any way, really. It's predictable at times, and unconvincing at others. But it's also one of the most genuinely unsettling horror films I've seen in the last couple years, alongside standouts in mainstream supernatural suspense like `The Ring' (you could call `Sinister' a cross between `The Ring' and `1408'), `The Grudge', and `Paranormal Activity 3' (I wasn't that big a fan of the original, the second was tedious, but `PA3' was great). In the hands of another director, with a different cast, `Sinister' could have been a completely mediocre and forgettable film. It's got the creepy kids, creepy Crayola drawings featuring creepy imaginary friends, ghostly photographs, and the obligatory `Google-search' scene (which has replaced the `Library-search' scene, with dusty, leather-bound tomes of occult lore and micro-fiche archives of decades-old newspaper articles about murders and suicides). But all the tricks and tropes that misfire in other films successfully ignite in `Sinister'. Even as I was shaking my head at the silliness or familiarity, I would suddenly forget my misgivings, thanks to the overwhelmingly disturbing atmosphere. And the booze, of course. [77/100]
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on March 14, 2014
I liked this movie. The premise is good although I think the Ethan Hawke's character could have been a little more clearly defined as a self-absorbed douchebag who clearly doesn't care what danger he puts his family in. The look of the villain could have been better conceived. As it was, he looked like a weird amalgam of The Crow and Jack Skellington. A little more of him in the shadows, and not clearly being see to be a guy in a long coat and a mask would have been better. The home movies and the music will stick with you. A nice little fright film.
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on September 3, 2013
It has been a long time since I watched a horror movie that gave me chills, but Sinister delivered. Without giving too much away, it has a great premise, both psychological and jump-out-at-you thrills, and the acting was good too. Some might find the pacing slow, but I found that it nicely built the suspense to the climax. On the downside I found the scenes a little dark, in the lighting sense. Even shots in the daylight felt like they were lit with a 20 watt bulb. I know it's hard to have something jump out of the shadows if there are no shadows but I felt like turning the brightness on the TV up on several occasions just to get out of the perpetual twilight. The fact that the characters seemed incapable of operating a light switch, even when searching their house at night, seemed excessive. Avid horror movie watchers will also probably peg the ending, or at least narrow it down to a couple of possibilities before the climax. Still, it's definitely worth a watch. A special note as to the music/score: it noticeably added to the suspense and movie as a whole and thus deserves special mention.
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on July 26, 2016
One of the few newer scary movies that was well put together, and not as cheesy as some of the others. My girlfriend enjoyed it more than I did, but I also enjoyed all of the special effects they used.
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