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Washed-up true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt finds a box of super 8 home movies that suggest the murder he is currently researching is the work of a serial killer whose work dates back to the 1960s.

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Scott Derrickson
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3 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ethan Hawke ... Ellison Oswalt
Juliet Rylance ... Tracy
Fred Dalton Thompson ... Sheriff
James Ransone ... Deputy
Michael Hall D'Addario ... Trevor
Clare Foley ... Ashley
Rob Riley Rob Riley ... E.M.T.
Tavis Smiley ... Anchor
Janet Zappala Janet Zappala ... Reporter
Victoria Leigh ... Stephanie
Cameron Ocasio ... BBQ Boy
Ethan Haberfield Ethan Haberfield ... Pool Party Boy
Danielle Kotch ... Lawn Girl
Blake Mizrahi ... Sleepy Time Boy
Nicholas King ... Bughuul / Mr. Boogie (as Nick King)
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Tonight, you've never seen anything this Sinister... See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for disturbing violent images and some terror | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 October 2012 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Found Footage See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£1,435,722 (United Kingdom), 7 October 2012, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$18,007,634, 14 October 2012, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$48,086,903

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$87,727,807
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character "Deputy So & So", played by James Ransone, was never called by his name in this movie or the sequel. In the credits he is just listed as "Deputy", and in the credits for Sinister 2 (2015), he is listed as "Ex-Deputy So & So". See more »

Goofs

(at around 29 mins) Ellison states in the movie that 8mm film was invented in 1966 by Kodak Inc. but this is incorrect. 8mm film was invented in 1932 for home movies. Super-8 film (the film type actually used to film the murders in the movie, not 8mm contrary to Ellison's statements), was invented and sold for home use in 1965, a year before 1966. There was no type of film invented in 1966. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Tracy: Just one box?
Ellison Oswalt: It's for my office. It's fragile.
Tracy: Sissy.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Midnight Movie Review: Sinister (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

CineTronic Blood
Written and Performed by Daniel Wehr
Courtesy of CineTronic
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
It takes a lot to scare me... This did!
14 October 2012 | by asda-manSee all my reviews

Ever since the very first trailer came out I thought, "now this looks good!" However, some quite poor reviews came in so my dreams were shattered slightly. But then suddenly some rave reviews came out, even from my favourite critic, Chris Tookey who gave it 5 stars! My faith was suddenly re-installed and I was incredibly excited to see it. It didn't disappoint!

With "The Cabin in the Woods" and now "Sinister", 2012 is restoring my faith in modern horror. It's a truly outstanding film that had me gripped for its entire 115 minutes. The film doesn't dawdle about too much either, it opens with a highly unsettling clip of found footage and then we get a beautiful swooping shot of a man and his family moving in to a new house. It's a standard set-up that we've even seen a few months ago in the surprisingly fun horror, "The Possession" but it's a clever one because we're mostly focused on our hero and in a sense that is what the film is about. His obsession with himself and trying to be re-ignite his fame after writing a highly successful debut true crime novel, followed by several duds.

I was quite surprised as to how much exposition was given to the main character and it only makes the film even more compelling than it is. He's also played brilliantly by Ethan Hawke, who makes up for the lack of acting skills his wife possesses. It reminded me a little of "The Shining" with the egotistical novelist stumbling upon a certain ghostly history, and it certainly contains the same amount of creepy moments. Ethan stumbles upon the super 8 films quite quickly which I was surprised and pleased about, as all too often there's a belated exposition before anything remotely frightening happens.

These super 8 films are masterpieces in themselves. It's a sort of car crash effect, as you don't really want to see them, but you can't stop watching. They're all incredibly creepy, unsettling and sinister (like what I did there?) They are also set-up perfectly with the horrible grainy picture, silence as well as highly unsettling music that all adds to the creepiness. All of them are engaging and compelling to watch. They're also very chilling and are sure to engrave themselves into your mind for a long time after the film has finished.

From then on it's an intriguing and creepy mystery as more and more disturbing information is uncovered. It's also clever how it's unclear if some of what Ethan's seeing is actually real or not. Is he really hearing noises or is it just the whisky talking? I liked the whole family element as well, showing the protagonist as not just some perfect hero, but also as a flawed character. The whole strained relationship with his wife is a fantastic element on top of the central ghost story. Although the woman who plays her is incredibly wooden!

There's a strong, unsettling atmosphere that underlies through the whole film. The demon man is also quite frightening and not too much is explained about him which certainly adds to scare factor. I've heard people call this a boring film and a bad film, but it's none of these things. It's a genuinely horrifying horror film with fantastic writing and directing. It's the type of film that gets under your skin and leaves its print in your mind for a long time after the credits have rolled. The ending is one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen in a horror film and I've seen many!

"Sinister" is a ghost story of Japanese proportions. By the end, I was actually terrified and had chills all down my back, which is something that doesn't happen too often. I never get scared watching films, but after this and seeing "Noroi: The Curse" which also frightened me, I was starting to think that I was becoming soft! But then I thought no. These are just brilliantly scary films that are high on atmosphere and don't solely rely on jump scares like too many American ghost films. "Sinister" is one of the best horror films this year. It has a relentless sense of dread throughout and is also incredibly effective and compelling. I can't wait to see it again, and also can't urge you enough to go and see it for yourself! Although, I'd recommend a night light for when you sleep.

Please read my weird and wonderful horror movie review blog! www.asdaman.wordpress.com


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