Review: Sinister (2012)


sinister movie

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

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27 responses to “Review: Sinister (2012)

  1. Boy are we on opposite sides of this one. You say its highly disturbing. Disturbingly bad IMO. Sorry didn’t work on so many aspects but I still enjoy your review even when we differ:)

    • happy to differ my friend, got no issue with that. I dunno it scared me a bit what can I say. There is a lot of divided opinion on this one out there

    • It’s a decent movie to be honest and scary in parts, highly predictable but executes mostly well. Many like, many hate it. I thought it was okay, a seven seemed fair.

    • Glad to find another like. seems that way, weird eh? if you’re referring to 3guy’s review that is. I liked it to be honest, it’s no were near as bad or as good as some have made out. could have been better for sure but not great either.

    • you may have heard good and bad, 3 guys…posted yesterday with a different view to me. I hold to my view still. It’s no were near as bad as in some quarters but it’s not a classic either. It definitely has polar views, I thought it was decent.

  2. What did you and my brother go and watch this at the same time or something. Second Sinister review that I read today. I think you may have been a little more forgiving than he was in his review.

    • ha, ha yeh I think so, your Bro not like it me thinks. I commented on it and on Reddit too. I was forgiving, I did like it a wee bit more but totally get why some people wouldn’t, it’s a really polar movie. I wrote it Sunday morning after watching Saturday night, not a bad film for me.

  3. Nice review! I enjoyed the movie too, it managed to be creepy and it’s not common among new horror films, most of those are either boring or laughable.

  4. I really enjoyed the first half of this film but towards the end it got a bit daft. The super 8 videos were the most chilling thing about it. It would have been a much better if they’d stuck to that angle instead going all supernatural. 3/5 for me.

    • I agree, 3/5 is roughly a seven. The videos where very good and the opening hanging was very disturbing indeed, but that’s the kind of imagery that gets me. It got silly in parts TBH but overall if was pretty effective. Thanks Mark!

    • I always leave out spoilers its a skill I have gotten good at I hope, I wrote a Cabin in the Woods review without spoilers once, now that is skill! Watch it, I quite liked it. I watched Insidious last night which was decent too. Thanks Tyson!

      • Spoiling Cabin in the Woods? Noooooo! Read a review of Dead Man Down that have out plot point you learn in middle. It was a spoiler for sure. I peppered my Sinister review with spoilers but said so. I jade to spoil such an asinine, badly wardrobed, unintentionally funny horror less cinematic mistake. To quote a late TV personality “I have seen better film on people’s teeth!”

  5. Nice write up. I can’t say that I didn’t jump a few times but for the most part I found this to be a disappointing retread of other films like Carnival of Souls or Ils for example. I think what frustrated me most was that they could have made something great. There was the potential to do something along the lines of Se7en or Zodiac and instead they went for the cheap scare.

    • Thanks Griff. I certainly jumped a few times and I like my chills predominantly gore free, so Sinister did it for me in the most part. It could have been great for sure and it lost it’s way. Many have commented about braking the fourth plane, and I agree now that, that did kill it a bit. overall I liked it. I am posting a review of Insidious tomorrow, very much in the same vein, both decent. many thanks for the visit.

  6. Loved it in the theaters, seemingly even more than you did. I agree that it’s not going to dazzle anyone with its originality, but I firmly believe that anything – even the most tired plotting – can be done well, and I think that’s the case here. Even though I pretty much knew what was going to happen at the end, it didn’t make its execution any less disturbing.

    Lawn mower!!

    • Yeh the lawnmower was messed up and the death scenes were good in a really sick.way. they were very disturbing indeed. I enjoyed it in the most part and disturbed a bit more than insidious if I recall.

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