Film Review – Sinister (2012)


Title – Sinister (2012)

Director – Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)

Cast – Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, James Ransone, Michael Hall D’Addario, Clare Foley

Plot – Struggling to capture past successes, crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Hawke) moves his family to a small town community into a house where recently a family was gruesomely murdered while their young daughter disappeared without a trace. Upon moving into the house Ellison discovers a box of “home movies’ that start to show just how deep he has gotten himself and his family into a dark and terrifying situation.

“Don’t worry Daddy… I’ll make you famous again.”

Review by Eddie on 26/08/2013

Sinister is a far more creepy and grim movie than it perhaps ought to be and a much more worthwhile horror than a large percentage of recent releases. That Sinister works so well is largely due to the way in which it was made and in the way in which it’s story unravels.

Directed by journeyman Scott Derrickson Sinister tells a genuinely chilling and unnerving tale of author Ellison Oswalt (played well by go to horror man Hawke) descent into the investigation of the murder of a family and the disappearance of a little girl which slowly but surely leads to more questions than answers. It’s in these scenes of investigation by Ellison that Sinister truly shines.

Centring a large portion of the horror into grainy 8mm film footage and mixing it with some of the best sound design and effects seen in a horror for some time Sinister creates a vibe that will get the most seasoned of horror buffs on the edge of their seat. The way in which these “home movies” play out and what they entail makes Sinister live up to its name and drives the story along even when plausibility and sense perhaps fall by the wayside.

As with most horror films both recent and not so recent it’s a fine line between believability and complete fantasy, a line that Sinister crosses perhaps just that little to much to be called a real genre standout. Scenes played out in the latter half of the movie undo much of what has gone before a shame because the groundwork of the film is truly top notch thanks the aforementioned “home movies” and Hawke’s tent pole presence. This stumble before the finish line is not enough to ruin the film’s good work.

Sinister provides the chills and the thrills. The film works well as both a horror and also an investigation thriller. Pillared by Hawke’s good central turn and bookend by a downright unpredictable ending that will leave you cold in the way a good horror should Sinister is a very well made grisly picture. Just remember, once you see Bughuul he can see you.

3 and a half home movies out of 5

33 responses to “Film Review – Sinister (2012)

  1. Nice review! Love this film. When I saw it last year, I thought it was the best horror movie I’d seen in quite a while. That last home movie–the lawn mower one–still gives me chills.

  2. Oddly enough, I finally got around to completing a review of this (still to be posted along with six million others) over the weekend and I felt more or less the same. It started off well, but lost it for me at about the point that the ghost children appeared in the house.

  3. This movie was a pleasant surprise for me. I went in expecting to maybe have a good time laughing at it, but it had a lot of cool things going on. I quite enjoyed the unraveling of the mystery behind the reels. Some of those movies were pretty neatly done and effective. It did kinda lose me at the end, when it ended up being about the kids. I didn’t hate it, but it was a bit of a let down. Still, it was really enjoyable horror-mystery!

    • My thoughts exactly – seems pretty overwhelming that people found it was let down by it’s last act. I found the 8mm films and sound design particulary effective and original.

  4. I kept wondering what exactly the moral of this story is. Don’t follow your dreams, I guess. Spend time with your kids or else they’ll get sucked into 8mm and then kill you.
    I did like how he thought he got away, but oh no. It’s the Evil Dead except without the happy ending.

  5. I heard about this film some time ago, but haven’t seen it here in Finland… it was never released in theatres (which is unfortunately common here as the market is quite small and movie theatres in general turn out very little profit). What is even more odd is that I haven’t seen even DVD or Blu-Ray releases. Maybe they took just a small amount and sold it out. Ah well. I am very intereseted in this film. It has an interesting idea and seems to be rather sinister indeed.

    • Oh sad to hear! Not uncommon here in Australia to for a lot of movies to bypass cinemas or get a really limited run which is a shame. Check out Sinister when you can though a very sweet little chiller.

  6. I wasn’t particularly crazy about this film. Actually, I think the scariest part was definitely the killer filming his own murders – the scene of him sneaking into the bedroom of that unsuspecting couple was straight out of Helter Skelter!

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  8. I liked the parts were Ellison can hear and feel the presence in the house, but he does not see them. And we do. It adds to the chill factor. When he was watching the films the first time, he took notes about who could have made the film and where the missing girl could have gone off. I liked that he found the answers in the end. Plus points for the spooky clownish face that popped up out of nowhere. Creepy.

  9. It’s not as freaky as I would have liked it to be, but with a moody atmosphere, it still delivers the goods on being scary in the right way a horror movie should. Great review.

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  12. Sinister was the first horror movie I’d gone to the cinema to see in more than 10 years, as I was intrigued by the cast and premise. For the first thirty minutes, I was so creeped out I began to wonder if I’d made a mistake and that I’d end up having trouble sleeping and/ or nightmares (I know – I’m a bit of a wuss). However, once the ghost children start to appear in the house, Ethan Hawke’s character resorts to such typically bone-headed horror movie behaviour that made me want to yell at the screen. Scary noise? Don’t wake the person next to you and ask them if they can hear it too. Think you saw something in the shadows or there may be something in the house? Don’t, whatever you do, turn on the lights – all the lights.
    I got so annoyed by this that it snapped me out of the film and ruined the horror element completely. Such a shame as it could have been a classic.
    Oh, and the moral of the story? Well, it’s actually a metaphor for property sales taxes, they only get you when you move house.

    • Ha great thoughts mate – I really do agree 100% about the last section of the movie everything else leading up to it was greatly terrifying but I still stand by the ending be up there with one of the better horror conclusions in years.

  13. I haven’t seen this movie yet. I’ve gotten behind on my movie ventures, but picking it up.

    Very nice review – I’m more interested to see it. Hmm, halloween is tomorrow, so I may just get a little scare. I’ll let you know what I think.


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