People in horror movies are notoriously dumb. Girls in tight tank tops are constantly running upstairs when CLEARLY they should be headed downstairs to where the front door is, and boys with douchey sunglasses routinely find themselves wandering around abandoned insane asylums alone, having told their friends that they knew this super rad place to get high. I sit in the theater silently screaming (what? I have manners!) “don’t look in the bathroom mirror, DON’T LOOK IN THE BATHROOM MIRROR” and what does that bitch do? She looks in the bathroom mirror.
Well, Sinister is a perfect example of this. Ethan Hawke is a sad, old journalist/novelist whose last hit book was decades ago. He’s greedy and a bit of a jerk, but he still feels passionate about writing. Instead of doing what us normal folk do and starting a naval-gazing blog, he decides to move his family into a house where the last tenants were all murdered, hung from a tree in the backyard. He also neglects to tell his sweet wife about the history of their humble new abode. Yeah, that will work out well.
As you might have guessed, things are not really what they seem in their Pennsylvania home. Things begin heating up when the tortured writer finds a box of old Super 8 film in the attic. Naturally, he decides to watch them, even though they are labeled with the most boring names ever, like “Family BBQ” and “Pool Party.” But they aren’t boring. The barbecue is a video of an entire family getting roasted alive, and the pool party involves four watery deaths.
But instead of turning this box of snuff films into the police like any sane person would do, Ellison (because that is his name, which I misheard as Alison for the first half of the film) decides to keep watching them. Even after he starts hearing spooky noises and hallucinating ghost-children. Even after he realizes that his movie projector has a life of its own. Ever after his daughter starts drawing pictures of previous homeowners hanging from a tree on her bedroom wall.
Ellision is clearly a moron (not to mention kind of a reckless dick). To make matters worse, he has a penchant for blundering around his house in the middle of the night in the pitch black dark. It’s as though they don’t own a single light bulb. Seriously, there has never been a movie character more adverse to turning on the lights—or even picking up a goddamn flashlight—than Ellision Idiot.
That said, Sinister was one of the scariest movies I have seen in years. The plot involves a cool spin on the found footage theme, and the scary guy is pretty horrifying. Add to that the fact that director Scott Derrickson is great at building tension, and you’ve got a recipe for quite the thriller. While you might want to slap the scruff off Hawke’s face for being so hellbent on destruction, Sinister still delivers some huge scares. Throughout the movie, I found myself holding my hands in front of my mouth, clutching the arm rests, and grabbing my boyfriend so hard he complained (he also jumped in his seat more than once, though he wasn’t as wussy about it as I was).
All things considered, Sinister is a great Halloween movie. It even gave me nightmares, and that’s pretty hard to do, since I normally sleep like the dead.
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