Directed by Scott Derrickson
Written by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill
Why has it taken me nearly a year to watch Sinister? It has all the elements of the things that interest me in real life as well as in horror films. There’s the ‘true crime’ element, the ‘unsolved murder’ element and the ‘paranormal killer’ element that I spend hours reading about in books and viewing on TV and at the movies.
Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke, Training Day, Before Sunset) is a true crime writer who has moved in with his wife Tracy (Juliet Rylance, Animal) and their children Ashley and Trevor (Clare Foley, Win Win; Michael Hall D’Addario, People Like Us) to the house where a family was hanged and the only survivor, a little girl, has gone missing and is presumed dead. Ellison doesn’t find favor in the eyes of the Sheriff (Fred Dalton Thompson, Secretariat) who believes that his books are more of a hindrance than an aid in police investigations. He does however find cooperation from the Deputy (James Ransone, Prom Night).
Oswalt finds a stack of Super 8 films that depict the hanging (Family Hanging Out ’11), immolation (BBQ ’79), drowning (Pool Party ’66), throat slitting (Sleepy Time ’98) and dismemberment (Lawn Work ’86) of five families. The thread running through each crime is that every family had lived in the homes where a previous murder had taken place, the families were drugged before being killed, and a child went missing from each of the families. The final thread that Oswalt discovers is the appearance in each home movie of a mysterious figure known only as ‘Mr. Boogie’ who could very well be an obscure child-eating deity named Bughuul. Ellison decides finally that enough is enough and moves his family away from the house and presumably the danger. But in trying to protect his family has he placed them more steadfastly in harm’s way?
I liked Sinister. There were spots here and there that kept me from loving the movie; I thought Juliet Rylance was annoying as the wife and I thought they tried too hard to keep the ending a secret and only succeeded in foreshadowing it throughout the entire movie. But those are complaints that are neither here nor there and that do not take away from the overall strength of the film. Like Insidious, Sinister is a ‘jump scare’ of film and it delivers them in spades; sometimes when you least expect it and sometimes not so much.
Do I recommend Sinister? Yes, I do. Just don’t wait almost a year after reading this review to watch it.
Screenwriter C. Robert Cargill admitted that the name of Ethan Hawkes’ character, Ellison Oswalt, was inspired by author Harlan Ellison and comedian Patton Oswalt.
Writer C. Robert Cargill got the idea for the script from a nightmare he had after watching The Ring.
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