Dir. Scott Derrickson
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Advertised as the film produced by those who also got behind PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and INSIDIOUS this can only mean one thing… SINISTER is going to be freaking scary in the way that a genre now full of gory torture, zombies and boobs (and that’s just the directors) needs to be.
Ethan Hawke plays his first horror role as True Crime Writer Ellison (Hawke) who moves his family to the crime scene of a brutal family murder. As they move their things into the house, Ellison finds a series of tapes to which he uncovers even more family murders previous to the one he had come to investigate. As he gets deeper into the investigation for his new book, his relationship with his wife and family suffers. While he searches for the truth with the assistance of a kooky police officer the world in which Ellison calls home slowly turns into something much more sinister, and he begins seeing things that make him look a little closer to home.
With standout performances from the cast and especially from the children of the film (we’ll try and refrain from any spoilers but they are truly menacing creatures hiding behind such innocent faces) and James Ransone as Deputy So and So (it makes sense!) bringing the much needed humour, the 90 minutes go far too quickly with very little time for unneeded build up before the darkness descends.
The film has come straight from first press and has been branded, unfairly, as a found footage film. Yes, footage is found, but this is not a BLAIR WITCH PROJECT hand-me-down, this is American terror with many jump out of your seat moments and one “OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!” moment that will have every hair on your neck raised. All we’re saying is you may think twice about cutting the grass.
The script is perfectly blended between fear, family drama and comedic moment’s a la the Insidious ghost busters, and this breaks down the horror and tension we get throughout the film full of sadistic family deaths and marital feuds.
One of the few downfalls of the film are it’s positives. With its well-executed timing and similarities to INSIDIOUS in terms of fear factor, we found there were many moments the film could have added a few scares, building up the scene for nothing to happen and this happened at least twice through the film.
Derrickson and Cargill have done brilliant in creating Mr Boogie, the demon/folklore of the film with his menacing presence in the background although in one scene we see a video frame of the demon turn, look at the protagonist, and look away again, which was unintentionally funny but we can graze over those small moments for SINISTER creates a very cold atmosphere and for anybody going for a romantic night out, this may not be the film of choice if you want to come out of the cinema smiling.