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Review: Sinister

October 11, 2012

Film + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia

Now I am most definitely not the sort of person who enjoys a horror film. The noises make my skin crawl and they leave me whimpering in my seat, wanting, instead,  to see something small, fluffy and Disney-like. So when I was asked to review Sinister, a film I couldn’t even watch the trailer for without covering my eyes, I prepared myself for a mini heart attack.

Ethan Hawke plays Ellison Oswalt a true crime novelist who is looking to write a new best- Seller so he moves his family into a house that was the scene of a grisly family murder. When he finds a box of Super 8 films in the attic, Ellison discovers that the murders in his home are part of a series of other unsolved murders, the only thing linking them is the mysterious symbol which appears in each of the films. With his marriage deteriorating and his children’s behaviour becoming increasingly strange, Ellison is determined to connect the dots and find out who, or rather what, is responsible for the gruesome murders.

Director Scott Derrickson, moves away from his recent cinematic flop of The Day the Earth Stood Still and back into what he does best, the realms of horror. As Sinister has the same director as The Exorcism of Emily Rose and the producers of Insidious and the Paranormal Activity series, it has a serious amount of horror to live up to – and it succeeds.

In a world of found footage films, Sinister offers up something slightly different. Yes, it still has the generic found footage, courtesy of the Super 8 films showing the stomach turning murders but also relies on the deepest, darkest parts of the imagination. The dark, shaky camera work and chilling score, courtesy of Christopher Young, work together to get under your skin and into your head.

In his début horror film, Hawke delivers a stellar performance as the jittery, borderline alcoholic novelist that has you wondering how much of what you see is the ghoulish demon Baghuul, or what is part of his alcohol induced, fragmented mind. Great performances are also supplied by Clare Foley and Michael Hall D’Addario, the young actors who play the Oswalt children. As always in horror films, it is the children who are affected by the supernatural goings-on that truly send shivers down your spine.

It seems that all horror films at the moment revolve around found footage and moving into homes where these creepy goings-on happen. Sinister is no different, but somehow manages to break away from the pre-established horror ideas. It’s been billed as one of the most terrifying films you will see and, safe to say, it live up to the hype. I spent most of my time cowering behind my hands, dreading what was going to be appearing next. If, unlike me, you are able to not watch it through your fingers, you’re in for jumps and frights galore. Oh, and prepare to not be able to sleep for the next week. Now, I’m off to find something soft and fluffy…!

Stephanie Butcher.