Of all the movie categories out there (I try to avoid the word ‘Genre’, I dunno?) horror has got to be the one that remains the most difficult to do something new and inventive in.
From the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious, this doesn’t quite bookmark the next new chapter in horror but it delivers a host of genuine chills as Ethan Hawke’s struggling true crime writer goes to work on his next big hit.
By buying and moving into the house of his next disturbing subject he’s hoping for inspiration; man does he get it, as he not so unpredictably stumbles upon a cache of Super 8 snuff movies revealing a variety of horrendous family slayings.
His own family comes with baggage; his son suffers with night terrors and a wide eyed daughter has a liking for spookily drawing on walls. Throw in a supporting, sanity checking wife along with the warning of the local fuzz and right there we have all the staple ingredients needed.
While being in the most part predictable, Sinister still becomes one of the better horror offerings of recent years; an efficient and alarming fright fest at the very first due to the unfortunate former families found footage opening ‘hang out’ that instantly sets an eerie tone that is maintained throughout.
Wide shots and partially filled frames take the eye away and down into corridors and behind into darkness waiting for something to pop out, and the sterile, dimly lit house is an abode that’s unwelcoming and feels every bit chilly.
The intermittently viewed collection of super 8 films offer the greatest chills as multiple family executions take place in a variety of disturbing and inventive scenarios. With a low gore value the found footage episodes genuinely terrify the mind as much as the eyes. An uncomfortable soundtrack to accompany the visual reel flickering powerfully adds to the tension.
Hawke does a strong job in holding all the tension together in what is pretty much a one man show, his descent into alcoholism and further anxiety gets better and better as events on super 8 take their toll, but how Mrs Hawke manages for most of the movie to remain smiley and seemingly oblivious to all that’s going on as Ethan bumps around in the night with baseball bat in hand, is a query.
Laughs are attempted at with the recurrent appearance of ‘Deputy so and so’ and in the most part offer a funny distraction from frights, popping the question of what his real place in this piece is, if any?
Efficiently delivering its shocks in unsurprising fashion perhaps, but as an overall scare piece it’s highly disturbing indeed and a brutal and very unsettling finale provides the vital pay off.
So, perhaps not the next new thing in horror, but no less terrifying.
Sinister then? Absolutely!
Blu Ray – Lovefilm by post