In 1921, England is overwhelmed by the loss and grief of World War I. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a child ghost. Everything she believes unravels as the 'missing' begin to show themselves.
True-crime writer Ellison Oswalt moves himself and his family into a house where a horrific crime took place earlier, but his family doesn't know. He begins researching the crime so that he can write a new book about it to help his flailing career. He uses some "snuff" film footage he finds in the house to help him in his research, but he soon finds more than he bargained for. There is a figure in each of the films but who or what is it? As a result, his family start to suffer (as does he) and things take a turn for the worst. Will they survive?Written by
Michael Hallows Eve
The super 8 snuff reels in Sinister aren't unlike many of the snuff reels that came up in the latter half of the 20th century. The super 8 film format, when it was introduced in 1965, allowed amateur filmmaking to be much cheaper and easier for the average person, but unfortunately this also meant that a great amount of snuff reels, most of them fake, started surfacing as urban legends and in banned movies such as the Faces of Death series. Most real snuff films that featured actual murders were never revealed to the public and have been confiscated by police as evidence. The JFK Assassination was caught on a super 8 camera by an amateur filmmaker as an unintentional murder film and revealed to the public; since then it has been subject to several documentaries and conspiracy theories. Sinister's snuff reels were made to look like 20th century murder films on purpose to fit the story, which questions who the people or person behind all the snuff reels out there is. See more »
(at around 1h 25 mins) When Ellison finds the undead children in the attic watching their super 8 movie, they all appear to be in various states of decay. Stephanie, who was killed in 2011, has decayed more than the other children, who died decades before she did. The boy who was killed in 1968 looks nearly the same as he did before, yet the boy who was killed in 1979 has a face blue-green with mold and rot. Bodies that have been dead longer decay more than recent bodies. See more »
Ellison, played by Ethan Hawke, is a true crime novelist who is looking to publish a bestseller more than ten years after the release of his hit book, "Kentucky Blood". Ellison moves his family (a wife and two young kids) into a house that was the scene of a grisly crime, leaving a mother, father, and two children dead, and a third child missing. Upon moving in, Ellison finds a box of super 8 films in the attic. On the tapes are the murders of the family who previously lived in his house and four other murders dating back to 1966. The only connection between the murders is a symbol found in all the videos. With his marriage deteriorating and his children's behavior becoming increasingly strange, Ellison is determined to connect the dots and possibly even solve the string of gruesome murders.
I'm sure everyone is familiar with the popular 'scary maze game'. Even if you know what is going to happen, you will most likely be scared in the moments leading up to the 'big scare'. You aren't scared of what is on the screen, but you're scared of what is about to be on the screen. That is the difference between surprise and horror. If the moments leading up to a jump scare are suspenseful, the actual scare is considered 'earned'. Too many horror movies nowadays have unearned jump scares. 'Sinister' is not at all one of those movies. It has it's fair share of jump scares, but after the initial shock, you don't feel at all relieved. The scares stick with you and you will go back to being just as tense as you were before the scare.
Another way 'Sinister' differs from most modern horror movies is that it actually focuses on plot. The film's director Scott Derrickson spends just as much time focusing on plot development as he does on scaring us, much like he did with 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose'. Since the characters are more developed and have more depth, we are able to relate to them much easier. 'Sinister' is more of a drama about family than it is a horror movie.
Ethan Hawke gives one of the best performances I've ever seen in a horror movie. He is great through the entire movie, but especially shines in scenes where he is frustrated. Juliet Rylance who plays his equally as frustrated wife is also great. With great performances from the two leads, it almost doesn't matter how well-acted the characters of their children are, but they are great nonetheless. Michael Hall D'Addario who plays Trevor provides one of the most shocking and terrifying scares I've ever seen (I just wish it wasn't in the trailer. However, if it wasn't, I may have peed).
I was lucky enough to see this movie in advance and attend a Q&A session with the director and writer. In the Q&A, they mentioned how this is a new take on the 'found footage' genre. This time however, instead of an "anonymous source" finding the footage and "editing" it from 36 hours to 80 minutes, the main character is the one who finds the footage. The audience is shown the footage, but not all at once. It is split up perfectly. Every time you hear the projector power up, you will automatically begin looking through the tiny slits between your fingers and you will certainly hold your breath.
'Sinister' is disturbing. 'Sinister' is 'Saw' level disturbing. During some scenes, I was actually trembling. The ending is also extremely messed up and surprising. And messed up. Not to mention messed up. The shocking imagery and twisted murders with certainly stick with you. Luckily you won't have any nightmares about the movie, but that's only because you won't be sleeping at all.
'Sinister' is the scariest horror movie in years and the best overall in the last decade. Horror fans will flock to see this movie and will not be disappointed. It is well-acted, well- written, well-directed, and most importantly, terrifying. If you see only one horror movie the rest of the year, let this be it. It is near-perfect and a step in the right direction for horror movies.
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