Ellison’s last big hit was a decade ago, and this true crime novelist needs another boost to assure his self-esteem, and his wallet. Despite the fact that it may cost him his marriage and his family, he moves his kin into a house that was previously occupied with murder victims, in hopes of solving the mystery of their deaths. What he uncovers will change the course of his life forever.
While unpacking, Ellison finds a box in the attic labeled “home movies”. In it are five Super 8 films, each revealing a ghastly, unnerving tale of execution. As he watches the sadistic features, Ellison begins to notice odd occurrences sprinkled throughout every story. A strange figure lurking in the background, a symbol of the occult drawn on a wall, and missing family members all indicate that these accounts are more than just random murders.
Scott Derrickson successfully revisites old school horror in this suspenseful thriller. He plays with darkness and sounds in a way that’s reminiscent of 1970s slashers, with a gritty detector vibe. The edgy, uncomfortable music adds tension to already pulse-pounding scenes, building apprehension in a creepy and cool way. This is the scariest movie I have seen so far this year, and I guarantee you that it will scare you too. In a genre where found footage has played out its welcome, it’s reassuring to see a new take on a very tired subject.
Ethan Hawke’s phenomenal acting shows just how much horror films can benefit from a gifted leading thespian. Hawke is great as Ellison, the torn father, writer, and husband, who loves of the different segments of his life so much that he can’t bear to lose any of them. His acting gives humanity to a somewhat selfish character, making it easier for viewers to identify with Ellison’s risky plan.
Another element that made the movie so enjoyable was the authenticity of the family. The dialogue felt very real. When Ellison and his wife Tracy fought over his lies about the origin of their home, her arguments were valid and well spoken. Because Ellison investigates crime scenes, he must isolate himself from his loved ones in his office, where he can cover the walls with photos from horrid events. The negligence of his children clearly takes a toll on their well being, and thins the ties of their familial bond. No characters are forgotten or one dimensional, not even the local deputy. The fleshed out individuals create a more believable story that makes you care about their safety.
Overall, this film is very well done. I expected the movie to be enjoyable, and even a have a few jump scares, but I was pleasantly surprised with the depth of Sinister. Although the found footage can seem unappealing, don’t let it drive you away. This movie is an utterly terrifying tale that dares you to keep watching. Please support this well-rounded, original horror flick, and see Sinister at your local movie theater.