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Sinister More at IMDbPro »

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10 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

This brings "run of the mill" to a new level.

Author: Tubular_Bell from Porto Alegre, Brazil
22 October 2012

This movie is so by-the-numbers, it's painful to watch. And you know, I actually understand clichés, and I believe a good artists must primarily know how (and why) to follow rules, but this film is basically a checklist of rules and clichés followed by the letter. List all the horror film clichés you can remember off the top of your head, and they'll all be here.

I still can forgive that, though. It's okay to follow conventions when you actually have good material to deliver, and when the material is delivered skillfully. But this movie wastes every bit of potential it has. There are some fine ideas here; for some reason, I always found there was something creepy and unsettling about Super 8 films, and this movie has a tendency (a tendency!) to explore that -- both the imaginary possibilities, as well as the physical aspects (the grainy image, the sound of the projector, etc.). But at every opportunity, the interesting things are merrily exchanged for some of the most gratuitous and pointless jump scares, and some of the most obnoxiously loud scare chords. I honestly think it's time for movie directors to get a severe beating and learn to STOP USING SCARE CHORDS! Every scare chord you hear in your life is the director admitting he is TOO INCOMPETENT TO USE THE IMAGERY TO SCARE YOU. I mean, isn't cinema a visual art? Aren't the images supposed to creep you out? So why are the scare chords even there? Instead of sucking the audience into the movie, it kicks them out, it detracts from the feeling, it ruins the immersion; and the effect is gone just a few seconds later.

And this is a shame, because there is some good imagery here. The "found footage" films are well made, but they're spoiled by some bizarrely stupid and exploitative soundtrack music (was that REALLY necessary?). But there are some "le artistique" scenes here that are borderline hilarious -- definitely a director trying too hard there. Also, we have to deal with Ethan Hawke's obnoxious twitching and overacting, the unnecessary "comic relief" character (I could see the actor was being earnest in his delivery, but that character was stupid), and other "checklist" moments. And why, WHY, did they have to throw Boards of Canada in this? (okay, so as a fan of Boards of Canada, it was certainly thrilling to hear Gyroscope in a movie theatre, but come on! That was a very shallow choice)

I definitely can picture a GOOD version of this movie. And I get irritated with the reviews that say that "despite the clichés, the film is good". It's exactly that attitude that makes horror films so ridiculous: the rotten core of the horror industry is taken as a given, as an unavoidable fact. This is a shame. Instead of spending money in making those "artistique" effects, the director should have tried to thwart those clichés for a REAL shock.

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13 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Watch something better if you REALLY want to enjoy a movie.

Author: kamran_asghar08 from Toronto, Canada
14 October 2012

I usually don't write reviews but stick to reading all of them before watching a movie. I did the same for Sinister, and a 7.3 for me is good stuff. So I went to watch it yesterday and I realized it was my biggest mistake. I am usually not scared of horror movies but enjoy this stuff. There was not one scene that actually made me uncomfortable. Yes, if you would consider random outbursts of screen popping with a monster and heavy sounds as scary, you are a baby. The story wasn't special and Ethan Hawke's performance was amateur to say the least. The entire audience was laughing at his exaggerated scared face. Who would use a base ball bat to fight a paranormal being? I tried hard to sit through it, hoping something nice would pop up, but it was all in vain. I actually thought this would be better than Paranormal Activity 4 who's got just 4.4 and is not even released yet. But I'll honestly say I enjoyed the Paranormal series much more. At least they had instances that made me excited. Sinister is a waste of time and money and more of a comedy than a HORROR. It was easily the worst movie decision of my life. Go watch UP!

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16 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Don't waste your time or money

Author: lissa_satx from United States
12 October 2012

This movie was horrible. Repetitive scare tactics, and a lull of a flick altogether. It had potential, but I left the theater rolling my eyes. It was so bad, that I'm beginning to think that the people on here leaving rave reviews are being paid to do so. Wait until you can rent it for a buck, and even then, I'd say that was too much. I love this genre, and I can even look past a movies flaws if the majority of it was good. The theater wasn't very packed at all, but even then I could hear some of the other people moaning and groaning after one of the "scary" scenes. Some parts that were intended to be scary we're laughable! And not in a good, "campy" sort of way. When the credits rolled, I have never seen an audience get up and leave so hurriedly before, and the look of disappointment on their faces. I could only assume they were thinking the same thing I was, "what the hell did I just pay to see"?

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Not buying it

Author: micke-bystrom from Goteborg, Sweden
14 April 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The basic outset is all-right. I started watching on Netflix assuming this was a murder story and found the build-up to about 50 minutes to be somewhat interesting and acting quite good.

But when the clearly "supernatural" made it's first appearance, in 2 video windows on the author's (Ethan Hawke) computer display I lost interest in the plot and I got rather angry too. Fusing horror and murder stories can be done in a good way — just look at "Pan's Labyrinth" — but spirits pushing pixels? Please… It's so BORING!

Why the anger? Well, killing people is something some other actual living people do. That's a scary story if told well as we know this can and do happen. Any supernatural aspect to this need to be sold to the audience. This movie totally fails selling the basic premise of the story it wants to tell. The experiences leading up to that supposedly "supernatural" moment was not convincing at all, so that "spirit edited" video just came off as cheap. Again, so BORING"!!!!! I can't finish boring movies. With so much compelling movies to watch instead this is a must go. I regret wasting 50 minutes.

Give me something to be scared of. Don't give me something checking the bullet points of Scott's imagined "scary movie". Bye Scott Derrickson! You're out.

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Very well made modern day horror

Author: Davis P from United States
7 April 2017

This horror movie is one of the best I've ever seen. From the fantastic acting to the scary scenes that will genuinely creep you out, none of those cheap jump scares crap, I mean like actually being frightened. Baghoul is an evil spirit/presence in the movie, but he's not like a monster made of CGI effects that you see throughout the movie, you see his handiwork more than you actually see him, but in my opinion, his handiwork is much scarier than them actually showing you his face. Because to me what you make up in your own mind and your own imagination is scarier than them just showing you the thing you're supposed to be afraid of. They do use that method and it works wonderfully in this movie. The cast is very good and I loved all the performances. Ethan Hawke is a very talented actor, I've known that since Dead Poets Society when he was just starting out. He gives a very good performance as the writer father who begins to research this thing that has haunted and killed other innocents in the past. As he digs deeper and deeper the movie gets even more entertaining (and scarier). I suggest this movie to anyone who likes a very well-made horror movie. It is directed very well and it's evident that the writers knew exactly what they were doing. 8/10 for Sinister.

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one of best films in a long time

Author: hammerheadshome from USA
20 March 2017

i could go on and on about this movie. to start with it opens right on the spot of the action. after 5 minutes you get right in to it i love that it gets right to the story.over all the film was start to finish suspense,horror and mystery with an accurate ending. the acting was fabulous by all i especially loved deputy so and so i was so pleased to see him take the lead role in sinister 2. who ever that boggy man was he was great. if i saw him in my house i would throw him the keys and say enjoy your new home i am out. the story ,plot, screenplay music score and set were perfect. i am still watching this movie its one of my favorites. because it still gets me going and is that not the primordial experience you want. one does not watch horror for amusement but to feel it in the pit of your stomach. this is first rate horror as its meant to be!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Captivating, creepy, atmospheric n an excellent ominous, eerie soundtrack.

Author: bloke_shwin from India
18 February 2017

I saw this first on a DVD in 2013. Revisited it recently. The movie was a like a breath of fresh air. The soundtrack was awesomely creepy n haunting. This movie had me glued from start to finish. I cud only recognise Ethan hawke from the star cast. Well the plot is basic - a family has moved into the wrong house where the previous tenants were murdered. It is not at all predictable n it is very terrifying. The title, Sinister aptly suits the movie. Captivating and creepy from the opening, it packs in plenty of scares from start to finish while also creating a horrifyingly unsettling atmosphere that engulfs you in same way that it grips the main character. Its a slow burn horror but not at all boring. The movie is full of atmosphere n tension. The creepy tapes, creepy kids, creepy drawings n most of all a very creepy n noteworthy villain, Mr Boogie. Scott Derrickson did a terrific job with the direction. Been a fan of his Exorcism of Emily.... As a pure chair-jumper, its right up there with the best. Derrickson knows how to put effective horror scenes on screen.

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Surprising, but not fantastic

Author: dsalouk from Australia
13 February 2017

Sinister is a surprisingly interesting and intriguing horror film. It maintains an element of mystery, it keeps the catalyst of horror on the outskirts, and uses lighting and music to glamorise and set the tone. Per usual to the genre, there are stupid mistakes made by the protagonist to drive the story and the horror element. Hawke does a well enough job, but the cheap shock drops, especially at the end, do nothing for him or the movie. Better than its counterparts in the genre, Sinister has just enough story to bring a little bit of scare to the table. Sinister raises enough questions, and is barely good enough to consider what a sequel might look like, if done properly, and hopefully, better.

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Hollywood horror

Author: thelastblogontheleft from Maine
7 February 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is a true crime writer chasing after the fame and recognition he experienced after his years-ago hit, Kentucky Blood. His wife, Tracy (Juliet Rylance), and two kids, Trevor (Michael Hall D'Addario) and Ashley (Clare Foley), have been as patient as can be thus far, despite him burying himself in his work and becoming more alcoholic over the years. In his quest to produce something groundbreaking, he moves them in to an actual crime scene: the house where a family of five was brutalized (four of them murdered by hanging from a tree outside, and the youngest child missing). He quickly realizes there's even more to the investigation than he initially thought, and soon he's too deep in it to escape unscathed.

I have some real admiration for this movie, and a few complaints as well. Let's start with the good.

Firstly, there's no doubt this movie has great production value and some fantastic acting. I was actually surprised, since I really can't think of anything else I've seen Ethan Hawke in (after some IMDBing there's really nothing that jumped out at me besides Assault on Precinct 13), but he's really great, as are Rylance and the two kids for that matter. This was apparently Hawke's first foray into horror, something he said he'd never do but he fell in love with Scott Derrickson's script.

The plot is not only engaging but they did a great job with character development. One of the biggest oversights I see in horror movies is a lack of really letting us get to know the characters involved. I appreciate the occasional cheap thrill and gratuitous gore as much as the next person, but I really love seeing a horror movie that seems to effortlessly get me involved in the characters' lives and personalities. This movie was just as much about Oswalt's simultaneous obsession with his work and overwhelming desire to prove to himself that he can reach a level of fame again as it was about the increasingly supernatural story unfolding in front of his eyes. There's a few very genuine scenes of discord between him and his wife where you feel like you can really relate to both of them equally — her desire to have a present husband and father to her children, and his desire to be free to pursue his passion.

There's some truly chilling scenes throughout the movie. Oswalt's sleepwalking son popping backwards out of the cardboard box in the hallway… yeah, pretty damn freaky. The "home movies" of the murders that he finds in the attic… disturbing enough that you really can't look away, made especially creepy by the old timey music that plays during each one. Each killing is sort of themed in this kind of bloody, gory twist on the idyllic happy family stereotype — the video of the family duct taped to pool chairs and drowned is called "pool party", the one of the family burned to death in their own car is "BBQ". You get the idea. Twisted.

The deputy who wants to be Oswalt's man on the inside — played by James Ransone — is just so awesome. It's a shame he has such a relatively minor character, because he has this understated humor and just natural acting ability that I loved immediately.

And now the bad. It's hard to notice that almost every damn thing that Oswalt does in this movie is in the dark. It's clearly done for creeptastic effect but it winds up being a little repetitive and not entirely believable considering he's got nothing else going on during the day, so why is everything in the pitch freaking black?

The bad guy in the movie, who we eventually find out is referred to as "Bughuul" or "Mr. Boogie" to the kids he abducts, is somewhat creepy when spotted in the shadows of the home movies… but upon closer inspection he seems like he might fit in better in some kind of Slipknot-esque metal band. The concept of his character — that he's a pagan deity from Babylonian times that needs to feed on the souls of human children to survive and can travel between his realm and ours through images of himself and symbols — is minorly interesting, but the logistics of all of it are just frustrating to me. I'd honestly be more into this movie if the killer was simply a serial killing human… he doesn't need a supernatural aspect, it was all creepy enough on its own.

The scene where Oswalt is investigating around the house because the Super 8 projector started playing on its own for the millionth time and the kids are all sneaking around behind him… cheesy as hell. Same with the kids sitting around watching the video up in the attic. I am just convinced that it's damn near impossible for me to think that kids — whether they're dead or alive, murderous or innocent — are scary. His daughter, Ashley, does a pretty decent job at being a creepy little murderer… but still, it just doesn't do much for me. The ending was only a little bit creepy but again, I could really do without the supernatural aspect, and seeing Mr. Boogie more up close kind of shook away the creepiness that came from him being so shrouded in mystery.

Ultimately, I think it did great for a "Hollywood horror". Strong acting and cinematography saved what wound up being an unnecessarily convoluted plot and a kinda goofy villain. I'll check out the sequel, Sinister 2 (which looks like it has James Ransone in a more central role, yesss!), and report back!

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"Sinister" successfully reaches out to fans of classic and modern horror

Author: Movie_Muse_Reviews from IL, USA
2 February 2017

A true crime writer picks the wrong murder mystery for his next book in "Sinister," a horror movie that balances the contemporary horror movie formula with mystery thriller elements and a solid leading performance.

Ethan Hawke plays Ellison Oswalt, a successful writer who has just moved his family to a town in Pennsylvania where a family was found hung from a tree in the backyard except for the third child, who was reported missing. Unbeknownst to the rest of his family, Ellison has moved them into the exact house where the family was killed. In the attic, he finds a box with an 8mm film projector and a handful of film reels, all of which show families being murdered, including the case he's investigating. Ellison realizes he's on to something big, but eventually things take a supernatural turn.

If the film weren't titled "Sinister" (a title that seems to have been subjectively chosen for marketing purposes) and you went in without knowing anything, you might actually convince yourself you were watching an eerie true crime thriller and be a bit surprised to watch the film take a contemporary horror flick turn equipped with creepy ghost children, freaky old movies and a pagan deity.

"Sinister" straddles these two genres without disappointing fans that wanted one over the other, but might disappoint fans that enjoy one but don't like the other at all. Director Scott Derrickson ("The Exorcism of Emily Rose") uses classic suspense techniques and the creepy Super8 videos for that slow-building dread effect reminiscent of a more classic horror-thriller, while also employing the slow- walking-through-a-house-at-night-that-ends-in-a-jump-scare techniques of today's horror movies. The film predictably begins with more of the former and ends distinctly as the latter, and Derrickson oversees the passing of that baton and ensures it happens cohesively with strong, evocative visuals and an unusually creepy soundtrack.

C. Robert Cargill's story also allows these genres to function effectively together. Good horror movies show more interest and concern in the characters and how they deal with horrifying events than the horrifying events themselves. Cargill's script definitely focuses on Ellison, and the simple conceit of him being a writer who investigates murders puts him in a unique position among horror movie protagonists. Cargill adds the twist that Ellison has not had a best-seller in 10 years, so there's pressure on him to pursue this case in spite of the warning signs.

A strong lead character also appeals to a better caliber of actor, and Hawke lends so much legitimacy to this movie. Ellison is more accustomed to seeing disturbing things, so to watch Hawke's performance as this case gets more and more under his character's skin is a real added benefit. Hawke allows us to empathize with his character despite knowing full well that we would not have handled things the same way he does at various points in the film.

The ending has some issues along those lines and some information that seems obvious to the audience is not obvious to the characters, and that can be frustrating, but on the whole, "Sinister" leaves you with a jaw-dropper of an ending, a perfectly freaky culmination of all the classic suspense and minutes upon minutes of wondering when it's all going to blow up.

"Sinister" will more likely win over viewers who don't always like scary movies than it will avid scary movie watchers who love the genre precisely for its conventions and clichés, but it successfully reaches out to both.

~Steven C

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