Starring: Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Fred Thompson
Director: Scott Derrickson
Sinister is a supernatural horror film in which a crime writer, Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke), moves his family to a new house in order to work on a new book. (What a great name, by the way, right?) His last real hit was ten years ago and since then, his books haven’t done well. This is his last ditch effort to make money on a family’s murder and disappearance of the daughter. However, he does not tell his family that they’ve moved into the house where the actual murders took place. And when he finds a box of film reels and projected in the attic, he begins watching them, unwittingly giving strength to a supernatural force than intends on possessing his family.
Sinister is not a movie we haven’t seen before, but the execution and the cinematography is top notch. Ethan Hawke hits perfect notes as the jaded writer, desperate at writing another book which will be as successful as his last one. In his words, he doesn’t want to become a “textbook writer” even though that will pay the bills. He’s an artist, after all, right?
When he and his family first move into the neighborhood, they are greeted by the superb character actor Fred Thompson, who expresses a near disdain for Ethan Hawke coming in and disrupting the neighborhood with his presence. He’s professional about it, but his deputy, a young fresh faced dude, is pretty star struck, much to the disgust of Mr. Thompson.
Nevertheless, Ellison persists, even after his son starts to have night terrors and he begins to see visions of children floating around. I must say, those scenes are some of the best jump scares I’ve seen in a while. They’re not cheap, either and they are scarily effective. Even upon a second viewing, I still cringe a little when I know they’re coming.
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The entire movie had a deliciously creepy vibe and the excellent cinematography keeps you intrigued. At times it was little dark, making it difficult to see exactly what was going on, but I soon realized that was the director’s trick to make you peer more closely at the screen so he could REALLY grab your attention.
There are snuff movies within the movies that are truly disturbing, especially when you learn the truth behind them. These film were shot on 8mm film to lend them more “realism”, and let me tell you, it worked, as did the rest of the visual effects of the film.
The always good Vincent D’Ononfrio makes a cameo as a professor who’s there to fill in the gaps when Ellison needs some explanation of what is going on in his house. James Ransone plays the young deputy that is Ellison’s connection at the police department. He’s so very happy to be assisting the famous writer with his research work. I thought the dude was kind of bland, but given that he goes on to star in the sequel to Sinister (which I did not see), I guess someone liked him.
I’ve seen this movie more than a few a times, and I have to be honest, it creeps me out every time. The performances, the staging, the overall crawling dread that follows you from the first frame….I have to recommend this movie. True horror fans won’t be disappointed and if you really get into it, it may give you nightmares for sure.
4 stars out of 5: Highly recommended