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Horreur technologique
Mr_Ectoplasma12 October 2012
In this day and age, horror is getting more and more creative by demand since the psycho killer in the woods-scenario has pretty much run its course. A consequence of that is the incorporation of contemporary technology and concepts appearing in the genre; "found footage" films have replaced Jason and Michael, and while these films do have potential (this year's indie "V/H/S" had some neat ideas), even they are beginning to lose steam. Enter "Sinister", which is an amalgam of timeless supernatural horror themes and "found footage" technique that has proved to be a consistent box office draw.

"Sinister" follows a true crime author, Ellison (Ethan Hawke) who moves his family (unbeknownst to them) into a house where an entire family was hung to death in a tree in their backyard, save the youngest daughter who vanished without a trace. Upon moving in, Ellison finds a box of 8mm footage and a projector in the attic; contained in these reels of film are various murders dating from the 1960s up to present day— one of them is the filming of the hanging murder that occurred in his backyard. As he furthers investigation into the footage, he finds more than he bargained for when connections are made to an ancient deity who takes the souls of children.

On a surface level, "Sinister" appears like every other horror piece on the market, but I was surprised by the substance the film had. Conceptually and thematically speaking, it's not painfully original, but director Scott Derrickson makes up for that with striking visuals and a daunting soundtrack. The opening of the film is particularly disturbing— the movie begins with the family hanging murder, which sets a damned unsettling tone for the rest of the film.

In terms of the supernatural elements at play in the script, they almost seem fairytale-ish (a Pagan deity who feeds on children— c'mon), but it does add a unique element to the film. I have to say though that the most frightening thing in this movie are the actual murder tapes themselves. It could be just me, but the notion of filmed murders unsettles me to the core, even if I know that the footage is faked; as if the act of murder itself isn't awful enough, documenting it is downright... well, sinister. The footage utilized in the film is unsettling, shocking, and above all, it's realistic, so the audience gets the same unpleasant feelings shared by Ethan Hawke's character. Truly macabre stuff.

Another major positive for this film is that the acting is far above par for what most genre fans are dealt. Ethan Hawke is a quality actor and newcomer Juliet Rylance proves her chops here; their scenes together are particularly strong, and much more than any horror fan could dream of asking for. The film's ending can be seen from a certain distance, although it doesn't necessarily make it less shocking in this case. If anything, it adds to the sense of dread pervading the film.

Overall, "Sinister" was a pleasant surprise for me. It doesn't offer heaps in terms of originality, but it's a stylistically stunning film and takes steps in the right in direction very gracefully. When it comes down to it, I can't say that I was even really "scared" by the film so much as I was unsettled by it. It has its share of orthodox jump scares, but I was more bothered and rattled by the grim nature of the film as a whole, which is a nice feeling to walk away from the theater with as a thick-skinned genre fan who has become increasingly harder to unnerve. 7/10.
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The movie for jaded horror fans who think nothing can scare them
larry-41110 October 2012
Directed and scripted by Scott Derrickson ("The Exorcism of Emily Rose," 2008's "The Day the Earth Stood Still") from a C. Robert Cargill story, "Sinister" is an exquisite realization of an original paranormal theme. The movie debuted in this same town's SXSW Film Festival in March.

Ethan Hawke is Ellison Oswalt, a true crime author and devoted family man with a what-have-you-done-for-us-lately fan base and editor anxiously awaiting his next blockbuster. Wife Tracy (Juliet Rylance) and youngsters Ashley (Clare Foley) and Trevor (Michael Hall D'Addario) are tired of constantly moving from town to town as Oswalt is wont to plant temporary roots close to the subjects of his ripped-from-the-headlines novels. As the film opens, the Oswalts are moving into yet another new house, but Ellison swears this is the last time, and selectively informs his family of his intentions.

In the process of unpacking, Ellison discovers a box of the previous owner's old home movies in the attic. Thus begins the odyssey into the unknown. Let it be said at the outset that this is not "just another found footage film." In reversing the role of viewer and protagonist, to some extent, it's Hawke's character who discovers the reels while we see his story played out on screen. We don't spend two hours watching shaky 8MM footage. They are integral to the narrative but aren't the sum of its parts.

In his horror debut, Hawke turns in a striking tour-de-force performance that rivals anything I've seen recently ("Insidious'" Patrick Wilson comes close). Rylance is delightful as the patient but exasperated wife who's barely willing to stand by her man for one more moment. Foley (Abby in "Win Win") and D'Addario (Josh in "People Like Us") are frighteningly authentic as the glue that holds this tight-knit family together. Fred Dalton Thompson ("Law & Order's" D.A. Arthur Branch and former U.S. Senator) does a star turn as the stubborn sheriff who will have nothing to do with outsiders tarnishing his town's already-shaky reputation. Welcome comic relief comes from underrated character actor James Ransone ("Ken Park," "Inside Man," HBO's "The Wire").

This is Ethan Hawke's first foray into this genre, a simple consequence of his passion for the material. "He said he'd never do horror," paraphrasing the filmmakers in the Q&A following the screening here, but he fell in love with Derrickson's script. The casting of Juliet Rylance as his wife was also done at his suggestion. Their on screen chemistry is undeniable.

The technical team doesn't miss a beat. Top-notch visual effects are always key in a film like this, but the common flaw in this genre lies in overdoing it. CGI and post-production trickery can certainly advance the narrative where appropriate but "Sinister's" old school in-camera effects, done while shooting, enhance the believability of the action.

Cinematographer Chris Norr eschews hand-held for stationary tripod shots and Hitchcockian slow pans, with POV tracking shots that allow the audience to sense the protagonist's growing paranoia. The occasional subjective POV angle, where the character looks at the camera, effectively places the viewer into the scene.

Lighting in the Oswalt home, where most of the action takes place, is appropriately subdued and rife with interplays of light and shadow. Hawke is often seen in silhouette, masking dark corners hiding secrets, literally. Terrifying night scenes beg the question, "Why are you going up into the attic?" Christopher Young's original score blends perfectly with needle-drop songs from some of the filmmakers' favorite indie bands. In a typical production, where third party songs will be inserted, the actors work to a temp track -- music that plays in the background until the company can obtain licensing for the tunes they want for the finished product, usually unknown (although often hoped for) during filming, that are then added to the soundtrack in post-production. With "Sinister," Derrickson and his team were able to purchase the rights prior to shooting so the cast members performed to a playback of the songs that would actually be used in the final cut. It does make a difference, especially when seasoned professionals like Hawke are "acting" in sync with the same music the audience hears in those scenes. It creates a symbiotic ambiance that links viewer to actor.

As a reviewer, I try to keep expectations out of my thoughts and writing. After all, it's only fair to the filmmakers (and me, and my readers) to judge a movie on its merits. Fortunately, it's not too much of a challenge to be as objective as possible when entering the theater, especially if it's a premiere and no other reviews are out there (and you haven't watched a trailer). But Fantastic Fest is a genre festival, after all, and one would not attend, theoretically, without being a fan of same. So expectations are placed on the film simply by virtue of the fact it's even being shown.

That's why I'm happy to report that "Sinister" was all I hoped it would be. Yes, this is why I attend Fantastic Fest and movies like this make it worth the trip. This is the flick for jaded horror fans who think nothing can scare them. This one does it. "Sinister" will give you nightmares.
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Tsk, Tsk...totally could have been a 10....
sugarnspices23 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I like to start with the good I shall..

1.)I loved the way this movie was filmed, it's the film style that gets to me and keeps me on the edge of my seat and covering my eyes. The dark corners, characters shot with a gaping background, just waiting for something to walk past, or be standing in the shadows.

2.)I thought all the family member actors( Ethan was awesome I thought) did very well with what they were given, and how little they were actually in the movie.

3.) Interesting "bad guy", not a TOTAL cliché.

4.) Anytime he watched the reels, I found it very intense. BAD, or NOT SO GOOD....Real Spoilers below....

1.)I don't know who in the heck green lights previews. Just from the line "eats children's souls" and them showing little "Amanda" was missing from the first case..I knew instantly within 10 minutes of the movie EXACTLY what the "catch" was.So I was hoping they would throw in a wrench and maybe it OBVIOUSLY wouldn't be the ONE little kid that goes "missing" in each family that is killing them. How else could Boogs be standing on the side line every time. DUH. Maybe they weren't trying to make it a secret.......

2.) Boogs. Bad guy. Child soul eater. Looked like a cross from the midget puppet doll from Saw and the guy from V for Vendetta, going to an ICP concert. NOT SCARY.

3.)Ghost Children. RUINED the whole movie. No kidding. As soon as I saw the little ghost hands pulling Ethan down when he fell through the attic...I said "oh god no, anything but little ghost children." The scene out in the lawn when he find his daughter Trevor ; ), and they show the children behind him in the midst....seriously was the quality and as scary as a Liftime movie, along with the makeup. YAWN. Way to go make up guy.

4.) Obviously little Ashley would be the child to turn. Also knew that within the first 30 min. They just threw in the other little girl (Trevor) to throw people off....speaking of...

5.) CUT THAT LITTLE KIDS HAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

6.) I did love the way they filmed this movie, but I hate it when they don't EVER turn on ANY lights when ALL this freaky a$$ $*** is going on. REALLY!??? Also, I hate it in movies where the lead person is figuring, hearing, seeing ALL this stuff go on in their house....and just keep going to bed in the house. YEAH RIGHT.

And last but not least... 7.....THE ENDING. SUCKED. SUCKED, SUCKED, SUCKED, SUCKED, SUCKED. If you have seen it you don't need me to tell you why. If you haven't...non-creepy Ashley..somehow (just like the other children) drugged, dragged and murders her family. Not only does Boogs taint their mind, he also gives them super hero strength!!! AND they added all those STUPID little ghost kids in it AGAIN.

This movie had SUCH potential. Who ever the make up "artist" was...banish him from the biz. Who ever decides what information and scenes will be in previews......FIRE HIM. Sad to see a movie that could have been SO good, be a, moving on, what's on next??
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Sinister- See It In Cinema
cookiechip_0713 September 2012
DON'T WATCH THE TRAILER! or at least try not too. I went into this film only knowing the title and the fact i was waiting for a scary movie to actually be... yep scary. Well i was in luck, as Sinister is exactly that...quite Sinister! I say try to avoid the trailers if u can because quite a lot is shown, although having said that you will probably be so absorbed into the film that you'll forget about what you have seen and still be spooked, BOO! :)

All the actors do a good job, Ethan Hawke is solid, not quite sure about the chemistry between him and his wife but i guess its hardly relevant in this film. The directing and editing of the film is slick with interesting angles and shots. The imagery is great and so are your jumpy moments even if it does contain a few of the horror Clichés.

The plot is simple and follows true-crime writer Ellison (Ethan Hawke) as he discovers a box of home movies "found footage" of murders that put his family in danger. Some people may dislike the believability of the films central ethos for the evil protagonist; however i liked the original mythology created here, it adds something new to the table. Also If the film is successful (im guessing it might be) the Evil Character aka Bagoul will no doubt be a new item for Halloween stores! Although not a game changer in the genre, i would easily go and say this will be the scariest film of the year and if not, well thats just win-win for us all!! ((star ratings = 7 good, 8 represents very good. 9 superb 10 epic)
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It takes a lot to scare me... This did!
Maz Murdoch (asda-man)14 October 2012
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!
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Creepy as hell
martinrobertson3004822 November 2012
I was dying to see "Sinister." It looked like one off those great psychological horror films that isn't so much interested in blood and guts as it is freaking you out, and that's just what it is. Well, it is Halloween after all.

The Fact that Ethan Hawke was drawn to the movie was a good sign to begin with, as he is great in most things he is in, and there's no exception here. He plays a struggling writer who moves into the creepy new house off the film too write about the messed up events that happened there. Yes it could off been in danger off being your typical haunted house movie, but it really isn't. Hawke makes for an interesting main character and even the creepy house and creepy killer off the movie are expanded to be something way more.

"Sinister" is bloody terrifying. So if your looking for one of those sorts off genuinely scary movies (which don't come along that often) look no further. Its creepy, will make you jump a mile high, and is genuinely disturbing (in a good way) with an ending that'll stick with you for days afterwards.
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Best Horror Film in the Last Decade
BobbyGuerrieri29 September 2012
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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"Sinister"- A solid and satisfying creep-show despite a clunky third act.
MaximumMadness7 June 2017
Say what you will about the varying quality of their releases- popular horror film production company Blumhouse really has a good thing going these days. With micro-budget features like the "Insidious" and "Paranormal Activity" series that are reliant on genuine scares over effects, and some very decent and high-quality releases under their name, its a modern day rags-to-riches story like few others. A company that has flourished without having to spend the hundreds of millions that bigger studios throw around. And one of their more fascinating releases of the past few years has most certainly been director Scott Derrickson and co-writer C. Robert Cargill's atmospheric and unsettling freak-show "Sinister." It has all the trademarks of an inferior film- plenty of jumps, lots of blood-'n-gore that is questionable, a blaring soundtrack. And yet, I feel it rises above many other films because of one thing- expert building and payoff of atmosphere.

We follow the story of true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), who moves his family into a new house... though his wife and children are unaware that their new home is also the location of an infamous unsolved murder, which Ellison is hoping to use as the basis for a new book. Soon enough, while doing research, Ellison discovers a mysterious box packed away in the attic that houses a collection of 8mm film strips appearing to depict almost ritualistic murders, all with one thing in common- the death of an entire family. As Ellison tries to solve the mystery of these dark and devious film-strips, his family soon finds itself haunted by strange happenings and unexplainable events... which may very well be tied the spirits of the slain victims and a demonic figure that Ellison begins to recognize as he continually appears again and again during his investigation...

A great deal of why the film works lays in the capable hands of the creative minds behind it. While I have taken issue with some of director Derrickson's films in the past (including the woefully misjudged "The Day the Earth Stood Still" remake), I've very much admired his work in the field of horror, in addition to his recent return to the mainstream with the delightful "Doctor Strange." And despite a limited budget, he shines through with wicked visual direction and a wonderfully disturbing sense of dread in "Sinister." This is one eerie, unsettling film, and his keen use of darkness, composition and suggestive camera angles lends a lot of fear to the proceedings. You can feel the tension growing with each and every passing moment, and at any time, you feel like everything is going to fall apart. I also very much admired how he handled the many "snuff films" we see peppered throughout the runtime... they are deliciously evil and twisted in all the right ways to give you the best of goosebumps.

The story Derrickson and Cargill craft is just a blast and a half, with extremely likable characters (archetypal though they may be) and a good structure that builds at a gradual but consistent pace. It's a very well-written film for the most part, and it does its job wonderfully in setting up the insanity to follow. Combine that with top-notch performances, and you got the recipe for a great little horror film. Ethan Hawke is absolutely marvelous as always, and it's nice to see him doing just a fun, old-fashioned horror flick. Supporting roles by the likes of Juliet Rylance, James Ransone and Clare Foley are also extremely well-played. And hey... we even get a small, uncredited turn from the fantastic Vincent D'Onofrio as a professor who repeatedly works alongside Oswalt via Skype chat. It's a small role, but it's also a lot of fun.

That being said... Oh, boy is there one glaring issue that does drag the film down quite a bit, and it's where it loses some major points for me. And that is the third act. While I will not spoil anything, be prepared for a bit of a let-down with a final reel that feels hastily patched together and has a fair share of moments that stink of studio interference. The first hour is so well assembled, that it's actually pretty mind-blowing how much of a mess the final thirty or so minutes are. With a rash of mind-numbing moments, repeated sloppy exposition dumps and a final sequence that is more likely to illicit unintentional giggles than genuine shocks... it doesn't go out with a bang so much as a whimper.

Still, it's not enough to ruin the film. Because outside of that messy, clunky finale, the rest of the film is incredibly strong and it is still a tale well-worth checking out. It's absolutely awe- inspiring sense of primal fear, wonderful performances and wicked entertainment value make it a great go-to for Halloween-night viewings or checking out with a big group of friends in the dark. It's not a perfect film. But it's a very solid and scary experience that I completely recommend to all fans of horror.

I give "Sinister" a very good 8 out of 10.
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Captivating, creepy, atmospheric n an excellent ominous, eerie soundtrack.
Fella_shibby18 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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Sinister. A Excellent Horror Film.
shayden201014 October 2012
Sinister is very well made horror film. It is the only scary horror film I've seen for a very long time. It's never too cliché as most horror movies are. It never cheats you. The performances are believable and the story is intriguing and always moving. The director has control over his audience, and the audience is completely okay with that. I knew early into the film what kind of horror film it was and I how it would scare me. And that what was one of things it had going for it. You can anticipate the scares and that makes it much more frightening. Do not confuse anticipation with predictability. The movie wasn't too gruesome, which left more room for actual fear. All in all, it is a very good film, So good, it's almost... Sinister...
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Superbly scary movie!
vishnu10318 November 2012
This movie is a must watch for all the horror fanatics. I really did not expect it to be so good and after watching it am totally impressed. The the sound effects are amazing. The movie is so unconventional and different than most horror movies in a way that it makes you wonder if its a true story. Best part is that it makes you think and there are so many scenes wherein you just want to pause the movie because you just cant handle the intense suspense. Its a must watch and you will not regret for even a single moment, all the more a true horror movie fan would get peace of mind for a good deal of time before they would want to watch another spin chilling horror movie. A fantastic horror movie after a long time!!! I hope a sequel comes out soon to reveal the secrets of the origin of the murderer!
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A Delightful Horror Treat!
Daniel Hollis26 September 2012
When the trailer boasted the producers of "Paranormal Activity" and "Insidious" the idea of what tone this film would be reared it's head. Based around a series of jump scare sequences and slow character sections in order to attempt to make you feel for the characters while easing the tension of the situation. It's a tired formula that is becoming all the more clichéd and repetitive. However Sinister manages to find ways to break free of these leashes that the horror genre is becoming tied down to.

Ethan Hawk stars as a true crime writer known as Ellison who moves into a new home with his wife, Tracy (Juliet Rylance) and his two children, Ashley (Clare Foley) and Trevor (Michael Hall D'Addario) near the site of a local crime in order to get inspiration for his novel. During an exploration of the house Ellison stumbles across a box with an 8mm camera and a selection of films, which upon viewing exploit gruesome murders. This thrusts area hero into a terrifying mystery as he tries to piece together the meaning behind it all.

With horror films these days we come to know what to expect. We're given characters that we can't connect with merely there to service the plot and an un-original story that we've seen time and time again bringing the audience no sense of engagement. But mostly we're never scared beyond the mere technique of a jump scare. With director Scott Derrickson we are shown again how mainstream horror can creep on us with effective imagery and suggestion. The scares here can be portrayed by just using obscure camera angles and bizarre images that unsettle us. Derrickson understands though that using loud bands and noises to jolt the audience can be done effectively. By backing up these moments with his strong imagery he uses it as a tactic to implant these horrific moments in our minds.

The highlight however is the use of the 8mm films. Sinister is in love with the idea of film, from celluloid to digital as not only are we treated to disturbing super 8 films but Ellison boasts are large collection of VHS tapes of his old achievements. It's a nice, simple touch that film fans will appreciate. These 8mm films though boast some truly graphic sequences, one particularly involving a garden tool. Backed with a moody soundtrack by Christopher Young who's worked on other horror gems such as "Drag Me To Hell" and "The Exorcism of Emily Rose". It feels more of an ambiance piece rather than a fully diegetic score merging together a series of dark and effective sounds building the feeling of dread constantly throughout.

Written by Derrickson himself and writer C. Robert Cargill the screenplay manages for the most part to push past the bland formula we've grown to endure with horror films of late. The film brings an intriguing plot that manages to put you in the position of Ellison's character, uncovering the plot and mystery when he does. There are scenes in which are hero re-visits the 8mm films and discovers new elements to them which adds a new depth to the story. The film feels relentless, rarely taking time to slow down and constantly feeling as though it's propelling towards something. However elements of the script are where the weaker parts of the film shine. While managing to bring interesting uses of horror and tension the film often retreads over clichéd ground as though it's trying to keep a warm attitude towards mainstream audiences. These are the times when the film feels as though it may lose focus but always manages to pick up its feet again. Alongside this we have some underused side and poorly written characters such as a police deputy who doesn't feel natural within the whole scale of things.

Sinister may tread over worn ground by it still manages to feel fresh and revitalizing in an age where we've conformed to the degrading standards of horror. It embraces the roots of horror and film in general making it much more than a homage and a feeling of an original yet genuinely terrifying story. Hawk manages to carry the emotional tangent of the narrative while the other characters are merely serviceable. It's not groundbreaking but for a mainstream horror film it takes some inventive and daring steps creating a terrifying, disturbing yet absorbing piece of cinema.

4/5 Stars.
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Average at best
stefanrawsthorne8 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I went to watch Sinister with high expectations and to be left a shivering mess. I thought it would be one of those films where I was squeezing the arms of my seat, squinting, trying to keep my head pointed at the screen.

As it turned out I ended up laughing at most of the "fright moments". The scares were predictable, the plot after 20 minutes was obvious and the only real scare I got came at one point where Ethan Hawke has a baseball bat in his kitchen and the camera pans to show a child standing just over his shoulder.

The film takes every scary, supernatural, horror cliché and crams them into 109 minutes. The only thing missing was an Indian Burial ground - they even managed to get the deranged axe murderer into a movie about a Pagan deity. Why is it always Pagan?

Comedy relief is provided by a local policeman who crosses from genius to idiot in the space of 5 minutes, while completely juxtaposing the supposed serious character of Ethan Hawke as a once successful investigative real-life crime author, trying to rekindle the fame he once had.

The acting isn't bad, but it's not brilliant either. The film relies too heavily on the names of the cast and the marketing strategy of "From the makers of Insidious and Paranormal Activity" than any real plot substance. There is nothing new in this film, if you have saw more than a couple of horrors over the last few years – then you will find it hard to leave fulfilled.

The ending is slightly unexpected, but not enough to save the film and ultimately it leaves you disappointed. The final scene sums up the whole movie, if they have to give you "one final scare" just before the credits roll – then it probably wasn't worth it.

As it turns out the name of the bad guy demi-god was pretty close to how I felt about the film, Bagul was the name – Bagul-Crap was how I felt.
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Now here's a horror movie
Remy_Azhary12 October 2012
This one scared the hell out of me. With the eerie music to accompany the film it sure made the movie creepy as hell. The opening sequence felt so real that it got me hooked to know just what the hell is going on.

I was watching it alone on Friday night after work and sure enough there were about less than 10 people in the theater (all of whom were couples). I could bet with my bottom dollar that with this movie they'd be so engaged in the film that they wouldn't dare to think about making out.


The film was directed by Scott Derrickson, the same guy who made THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE; and he collaborated with the composer, Christopher Young, on that very film. I am quite familiar with Young's music score from his composition for A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2 and it was creepy; also he did the score for Sigourney Weaver's serial killer film, COPYCAT.

I'm telling you if those two managed to bring out the spine-chilling factor in EMILY ROSE, in SINISTER they really sealed the deal in being the potent filmmakers in the exploration into the paranormal and supernatural. It gave me goosebumps just thinking about it.

One thing that I feel about SINISTER was that Derrickson (together with Young) brought us back to that atmospheric terror of the unknown that is truly nostalgic of horror films of the 70s.

The feel of the movie was so scary that this was how THE AMITYVILLE HORROR should have been remade.

In short, I'd highly recommend you (or better still DARE YOU) to see SINISTER. This is one good date movie if you want your date to crawl under your shirt; or just bring some best buddies to scare the crap out of you. I mean it may not be INSIDIOUS, nevertheless, if you love that then you'll love this.
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Did I watch the same movie as everyone else?
maelstrom037014 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not usually one to write reviews, but after the ridiculous amount of "Best! Horror! Movie! EVAR!!" reviews, I couldn't help it.

I'll start with something good (Kinda like the "Oreo" method). I thought the acting was good. The family had good chemistry and Ethan Hawke did a great job conveying his horror as he delved deeper into the murders. Also, the "found footage" murder films were VERY creepy and well done.

That said, I can't really come up with anything else good to say about this movie. In my opinion, a good horror movie has either A.) A sufficiently scary monster/ghost/demon, B.) A premise that effects a majority of people (The Strangers) or C.) A combination of both. 'Sinister' has none of this. If you aren't a family with 2 kids who also happen to live in a house where the previous family was murdered, you're safe! That's a pretty small demographic. Also, there's the completely convoluted pattern. Sooo, he gets mad when you move? It's also a bit of "the chicken and the egg". How did the first murder happen? The Pagan Deity this movie centers around was pretty damn creepy in the blurred images we were shown at first. Unfortunately, the director decided "MOAR IZ BETTURR!!" and, just like that, we're supposed to accept that a member of Slipknot has turned to a life of eating children's souls. Add that to the endless cheap jump scares (The boy's night terrors served no other purpose than to provide two cheap, easy scares), an erratic sound track and "BOOM!" sound effects and this movie was a complete let down. I can only assume that the "zOMFG!! The kids did it!!!" was supposed to be what would "f*ck a lot of people up" about this movie. I ramble a bit so I hope this was at least slightly cohesive. In short, give 'Sinister' a pass.
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Breathe taking horror thrilling.I was scared while watching this one.Terrific horror.
DG_Boy2 August 2017
The movie is very thrilling and breathe taking horror.I was scared while watching.Especially the short clips were very thrilling,terrific and dangerous.The direction was good.The screenplay and editing was nice.The story is brilliant.The acting were superb from all the characters.The ending scene was really really very scary.And the main things were the clips that were terrific.The bogeyman was very horror and dangerous.I think that horror movies fans will never get disappoint while watching this movie.They will definitely like this.A must watch for horror movies lovers.I think this is the finest horror film I have watched till date
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Eater of children.....
FlashCallahan20 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Ethan Hawke and his family and cardigan, move into a new house, where he can settle down and write his new book.

The trouble is, the family who lived there before are the subject of his new book, and they were all hanged in the back garden.

But alls not lost, Hawke goes to the attic and finds that someone has left some home movies, with the added bonus of seeing the families get killed.

Soon strange things start to happen, and someone dressing up as 'the crow' starts to haunt Hawkes mind, and cardigan.........

I remember when I first saw the trailer, and though this could be something special. The reviews for this are pretty solid too from the public, so my expectations were high.

If you've seen the trailer, you have seen all the best bits from the film, apart from the lawn owner scene.

What I must say is that the soundtrack is excellent, and I've never heard 'boards of Canada' used to such effect.

But that's all the positive remarks I have about this drivel. Hawke is okay, but the rest of his family are so mundane and unimportant, you really couldn't care less about them.

Trevor has night terrors, and nothing ever becomes of this (apart from the fact that it explains why he has to keep his door shut) and his wife just moans throughout the whole movie.

Jump scares are the order of the day here, rather than creating an atmosphere, we are treated to screeching violins and snakes under boxes. Baghoul, or however you spell his name is a mixture, of the crow, gene Simmons and Heath ledger in the dark night.

Even the scene where Hawke realise that Baghoul is in every home movie is ruined, thanks to the trailer. Deputy so and so pops up every now and again to provide some sort of comic relief, but it feels like the ,Akers were trying to inject humour ala Insidious, and it just doesn't work.

Just when it gets too confusing for Hawke. Vincent D'onofrio skypes him and tells him the secrets of the symbols and Baghoul.

But hey, it's too late, his daughter double crosses him, in one of the most boring plot twists I have ever seen.

It's a huge disappointment, even usurping Taken 2 in disappointments of the year.

Many will disagree, but really, film makers must make sure, they leave something out of the trailer, because it ruined the film.

That and glow in the dark poison, and cardigans and the fact that when Baghoul popped up at the end, I thought of Mortal Kombat 2 on the super Nintendo and remembered how to activate reptile...
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Are you people kidding yourselves?
toflz14 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Either all of those years of "screamers" made me immune to this type of horror movie, or it was just plain HORRIBLE! I am positive it is the latter, considering the scares in this movie were horribly predictable and cliché. There is a scene where he has a picture in his hand with the boogie, and the photoshop is disgustingly visible. I predicted about 80% of this movie while I was watching it, and there was only one time when I didn't know he was going to pop out. However, because he is in a nether-realm, even when he shows up it isn't scary.

The plot was boring, it was only rated R because it showed kids doing obscene things, that you cannot even see. Bottom line is, you are better off trying to get scared off of a youtube screamer, instead of wasting money on a complete disgrace to the Horror genre. This movie might as well be called "Horror", considering how cliché and boring it was.
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Failure to suspend disbelief.
insidmal12 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I was not able to get in to this movie. I'm a sucker for scary movies, and although this one did make me jump a few times the fear factor in this film is fully from the sense of surprise, not actual 'fear' itself. Every time I found myself starting to get involved in the movie, it would pull me back out by a lack of continuity and complete predictability. The story is overplayed, most of the elements in this film we have seen over and over and over again. You can tell within the first 10 minutes what is going to happen, and then you just sit there and wait for it to unfold. An hour and a half later when it does unfold, the movie comes to a sudden end, and you are left disappointed - all that waiting and then nothing really happens. Such an overplayed premise - the film opens with the family moving into a house where someone had been killed in the past - there's a shocker. Of course one of the kids has some weird oddity that picks up on the vibes instantly. The husband is a writer (why do writers in films always have such a shitty sense of style?) the wife is.. who knows.. she's just there to add more tension to the situation. Husband finds some film that documents the crime he is writing about, that occurred in the house.. ooh gee how did it get there? who knows.. what a mystery - sooo scary, we've never seen anything like that happen before. He watches the video and it documents the crime, as well as others - he watches it and finally notices a character and a symbol that repeats in each video. He talks to some college professor (wow something else we've never seen before - though the 'professor' was probably the most interesting character in the entire movie) who lets him know it's some old ancient god that of course doesn't exist, and how it is some initiation.. meanwhile in every video one person from each family isn't present - an overly-obvious foreshadowing of who committed the actual crimes (the children themselves) of course when he watched the video it released the spirit of this demon god whatever, the movie then just shows an hour straight of them having random situations where the spirit of this ghost or of the kids interfere - randomly popping up giving us a little startle but after the first 2 minutes of this it becomes obvious what is going to happen next in just about every scene.. When they finally let the story play out of course it gets to be too much and they all run back to their old home town - and conveniently as soon as they get there they discover that every family who has been killed, lived at the house of a previous murder - this part is I guess a "unique twist" but now what you knew was going to happen is confirmed, the youngest daughter kills the family then gets sucked into the movie reel which gets left in a box for the next family to find..

One of the things that really 'scare me' about scary movies is when it is something that could happen to any one in any situation - I left this movie knowing no one had ever been murdered in my house, and with no fear of ever running across this random demon in my real life, I didn't take the movie with me, which is usually when the scariness factor of a movie really kicks in. Although the story itself was semi-unique in the overall premise, the elements within it were recycled and way too common, making it very predictable. Between this and the errors in continuity I could never really get drawn into it for more than a few minutes, and any sense of fear that existed from the film, stayed in the theater with it.
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Starts off strong, then to a bland finish
Felicia Tan13 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I wasn't going to review this film, but then I felt like an unsatisfied horror fan customer by the time the credits rolled.

To start things off, the movie was so promising. The soundtrack was ingenious, with a heavy dose of indie ambient music, mixed with voices - many times I questioned whether what I heard was a moan from the scene or the music?

Cinematography was interesting. I liked the opening scene, the found footage really caught my attention, and the introduction of Ethan Hawk and his family's was well done. The long dolly shot with no cuts to open the movie kinda reminded me of a high end DV cam footage too. Real nice. No complaints in this department.

Characters were well played, kids not annoying, good acting all around. The young policeman looked a little like a criminal in his mannerisms, and he turned out to be fine, and the prof whom I thought was going to have a heavier role turned out to be really... small in his role. But I guess such details throw off the audience who like to guess where things are going. I'll give it to the film too for managing to avoid some cliché potholes, for example, with the boy in the box (brilliant).

Here comes my issues with this film (PERSONAL OPINION): PACING. In all of the jump scares, I wasn't scared at all. Not even a little heart jolt. In fact, when all of the jump scares occurred, I was focusing on the wrong thing on the screen.

I'm not a huge fan of jump scares, they are cheap, and really throw off the excellent mood setting that the cinematography and music and acting set. I personally found the other parts and basically anticipation to be more nerve wrecking than the actual scare itself. Some people have watched a similar movie 'Insidious' (same makers) and thought it was brilliant. I am one of the people who thinks Insidious works better as a 'circus freak show' type of horror as opposed to occult/supernatural horror.

As much as I love horror, blatant circus-like horror doesn't appeal to me. I found it blasé and 'too much'. Same issue I had with Insidious, I wished it was closer to authentic, classic, realistic and good supernatural horror. Or even a thriller. I don't mind a good psychological thriller either. But the scary 'kids' and the 'demon' were so .... blatant (i guess) till I was even mentally checking out the special effects, appliances and paint jobs they had for their characters.

I wasn't thrilled about the ending either. The last 10 minutes of the movie felt like it was trying to rush its end, 3 pictures from the prof and he doesn't shed any new light on the situation (I think Ethan Hawks got the message when the box of films refused to be burnt and gone), one very urgent phone-call from the policeman suddenly explained everything and why the family was about to be f***** in 2 seconds (really???), and with this new revelation and sudden info to process, the viewer is just supposed to accept that?? No fighting chance for the man's man Ethan Hawks at all? They seriously had him lay there like a sushi, while fate is being dealt out to him. MEH. Not even a surviving journal to detail his findings?

And what's that blood streaked wall of murals about? A bloody painted unicorn and is that a cartoon dick I see that zooms into a face?? I can't even tell if they are trying to insert humor or something. *Facepalm*

I thought the final footage was gonna be for a NEW family to chance upon but NOPE! We are shown what happens to the girl as she sketches her last picture; it feels like an extra reel, bonus footage, and the time would have been better spent on for example, showing how butchering is done the SAW fashion.

I was so disappointed how they served up a meaty intro and then gave up at the end, resorting to cheap techniques, cuts to speed time up, choosing to dwell on scenes that are not important, and neglect elaborating on what's most important.

If people didn't promise me the heavens when they left their reviews, I wouldn't be THIS disappointed. I would still say watch it, but please, don't expect the world lest you get disappointed like me.

===============SPOILERS HERE==============

I seriously question how little children are able to physically commit tall-order murders. From planning how to execute them, to having the kids acting like they aren't planning like they are going to kill people, to making sure that evidence left behind doesn't point to kid killing family, that's a lot of work! Most psychopaths put years into perfecting murder!!

Pulling dead weight into the pool isn't easy. Pulling dead weight into a car ain't easy. Tying dead weights up a tree ain't easy. It literally requires little kids to know strong knot-tying skills. Did the demon teach them all that? OMG. Demon has a future in education!
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It's a meandering pointless story full of horror clichés.
I B22 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
While Sinister does offer enough scares I found it to be a lack luster affair. When I was going to see this film I didn't know what to expect. When I was watching it I have to admit that it put my nerves on edge. Unfortunately, it doesn't do this in any innovative way. Sinister relies too much on jump scares, and consists of Ethan Hawke as Ellison Oswalt interacting with things like a laptop and a supernatural projector. There are supporting characters but they're often nothing more than plot devices. At one point Vincent D'Onofrio pops in as Professor Jonas only via iChat to provide more info about the baddie. One has to give Hawke some credit because he does deliver a good performance as a frightened family man, but it's just silly when the demon Bughuul (a.k.a. Mr. Boogie) looks like a member of a heavy metal band. In the end we still get to know almost nothing about this Pagan deity and he has very little screen time. It's clear that Sinister was heavily influenced by the Japanese horror genre and Paranormal Activity (2007). It features a silly conspiracy involving Super 8 footage, several children and the demon baddie. Because the film aims so much to shock you with a minimal plot you have to watch scenes which make no sense. Director Scott Derrickson made it a thing to show doors being closed and the projector being turned on again and again. It seems that some moviegoers consider Sinister a good horror film because it gave them a difficult time. Unfortunately, when you're done watching it and look back on it you can't help but notice the unexplained and the silliness. The film should have been more serious. As a horror flick it's passable but I don't recommend watching it.
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Daniel Andrews1 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers

I'm mortified that this movie has the overall rating it does. I'll try to keep it clean and simple:

Blair Witch effect: the majority of this movie is in darkness or dimly lit rooms, to the point where it surpasses suspense and atmosphere and simply leaves you watching what is essentially a black screen for the entire duration.

Accents: The mother, Tracey, plays the token, somewhat well-spoken London accent character and in real life this is actually the case however for some bizarre reason her accent in this movie comes across as though it's been tainted with American. The result is oddly pronounced English that you can't get comfortable with. Ultimately it's difficult to take any line she gives without simply focusing on figuring out her accent and over- pronunciation of words as commonly seen in American movies where a British character is used. Very distracting and awkward.

Noises: numerous scenes in the movie contain a strange clicking sound supposedly made by the same equipment being used for showing the home movies in the film. This noise bears no relevance to the scenes and doesn't at all fit with the atmosphere of it and so is annoying to listen to, why on earth was it used?

Repetition: the core hanging scene shown in the film is showed quite literally again and again and again throughout the movie with no real reason for doing so. Not necessary, and quite frankly appeared to be a way to waste more film time.

Cheap tactics: because the film itself lacked anything to actually be scared of, it relied heavily on cheap scare tactics (think as basic as you like, faces jumping out at the screen, falling silent before a big shock) to actually be called a "horror". The ending- extremely predictable. This film reminds me of a ghost ride at a funfair.

Repetition: as well as the continuous darkness throughout the film, I'd say a good 90% of it (no exaggeration, you have my word) is Ethan Hawke walking around the house with a torch, pulling the same face. There is no content and interesting devices to move the story along.

The ghost children: it looked like kids do when they're in a school play and have faint paint on and white sheets. Pulling the dull emotionless face that filmmakers seem to think is scary the entire time.

Rating: 1 star. The one star comes from the filmmakers successfully managing to leave out one of the ghost children saying "wanna play?". For this I applaud them. One thing this film did right. A genuinely awful, awful film and one I do not for one second recommend to anyone. Spend your time more wisely, there are better-made films out there that you could be giving your time and effort to.
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Slow burner, not scary!
Wolfn Howler17 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I just watched this movie and I was like scare me already! It takes awhile for the movie to get up to speed (More like turtle crawl). It was predictable as other posts have mentioned and the wife was a super nag I was really hoping she would get killed in the 1st 1/2 hour!

With out saying much more and cutting to the point.

  • It wasn't scary at all - Bagoul was creepy till they showed his face clearly, he looked like a member of the rock group KISS. - The lighting was horrible, maybe they could'nt afford more bulbs or lamps! - The films he found with the murder movies was original and creepy - The cheesy loud bangs to make you jump was predictable and overdone! - Acting was meh... - The ending left me leaving the theater 20 bucks short!!
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A huge disappointment for a true horror movie fan!!!
eclipse_eyes9 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This was one of the WORST horror movies I have seen in a long time!!! (Short of "The Bay", which managed to be just a tiny bit worse than this one.) I am an Ethan Hawke fan, and I can honestly say he was the best actor in the movie... Besides Ethan, the rest of the acting was not good! The lines were hokey, not at all believable. And I would personally like to scold whoever composed the musical soundtrack for this movie! It was extremely irritating and/or sounded like bad porn music at times... Absolutely terrible. The "special effects", i.e. the dead children and Mr. Boogie, were awful - obviously computer animated, and you saw them so often they lost their scare factor. As a true horror fan, I feel there were SO many things they could have done to make this movie better and scarier! The story was very predictable and disappointing. If you paid to see this in the theater, I am sorry for your waste of money... If you haven't yet, DON'T BOTHER!!!!!
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Very Scary and disturbing
trav_2721 October 2012
Saw Sinister today and loved it. I am a horror fan and it was a great scary movie and disturbing, good disturbing if you know what I mean. Jumped a couple of times and the length of the movie was perfect. have no complaints. I thought Ethan Hawke was perfect for the picture and his wife in the movie (ive never seen) was very great also. From all the way back from the 60s there were murders of the entire family, but one of the kids always came up missing. and each family murdered it was like a 10 year span from each other and they all previously lived in the same house the previous family was murdered in. It all came together in the end, it was a great story and movie. cant wait till it comes out on DVD. Great job!!!!!
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