Every year there is a steady stream of horror movies that promise to provide non stop scares and an experience like you have never seen before. The vast majority end up falling well short of that goal with predictable stories, bad acting, and maybe just one or two moments that make you jump out of your seat. "Sinister" is the latest entry from producer Jason Blum who has also been responsible for "Insidious" and the "Paranormal Activity" franchise.
Ethan Hawke stars as true crime author Ellison Oswalt who has just moved himself, his wife Tracy (Juliet Rylance), and their two kids Ashley (Clare Foley) and Trevor (Michael Hall D'Addario) to a new home. What he has not told the family is how the multiple murder that he is writing a book about actually took place in the backyard of the house they are now living in. He has kept this information quiet so as not to cause any panic or distress, but this might not have been the best decision.
As boxes are being unpacked and the family is finding homes for all of their stuff, Ellison brings a few things up in to what is supposed to be an empty attic. In the middle of the floor is a box filled with a super 8 camera , a projector, and a few canisters of film that are labelled as home movies from various points in time. After watching a couple of the films, he discovers a connection between the murder he is investigating and a couple incidents where families have been killed off in gruesome fashion except for one child from each that goes missing after the crimes are committed.
As more and more research is done, Ellison begins to see a link between all the murders that took place over many years and in very different parts of the country. Even with some very strange things happening in the house, he continues on and begins to piece together evidence that shows how a supernatural force may be behind all of the incidents. The more he digs, the more things go bump in the night and he realizes there is a point in time where he needs to make a decision between protecting his family and writing a book he feels will be the most important of his career.
The first thing I will say about this movie is holy crap that was some scary stuff! Director Scott Derrickson has done a great job in putting together a movie that is creepy, scary, intense, and any other descriptive word you would want to attach to a good horror movie. The jump out of your seat moments are there in a very literal sense and there is an underlying current of dread and tension that makes those moments pay off even more as they jump out at you. If you are into this kind of movie, you will have a great time comparing notes with your fellow moviegoers on how many times you closed your eyes, cringed in fear, jumped, and/or screamed. Yeah, this is one of the good ones.
Sure, movies can be scary, but end up falling flat with a bad story that just falls apart or ends up not making any sense. While "Sinister" doesn't break any new ground when it comes to the story telling, there is just enough there to keep you engaged throughout and the acting is actually a cut above what I normally expect from a movie like this. Hawke and Rylance are very believable as a struggling family that is under a tremendous amount of stress even before all the scary stuff starts getting thrown at them. Throw in a villain that is actually very creepy if not downright terrifying and you have the makings of a classic horror movie that will have you second guessing that box of old films your family keeps up in the attic.