Scott Derrickson is best known for directing the Exorcism of Emily Rose which in some ways reinvented the whole exorcism sub-genre. His latest film Sinister is similar in that it does a terrific job at building up tension and genuinely freighting audiences.
The film follows Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) who is a true crime writer and has moved his family into a house were four members of a family were hanged and one of the sons was never found. Ellison soon discovers a box containing four videos that depict various families being murdered. He takes it upon himself to try and solve these murders.
The plot of Sinister is a simple one and one that has been done numerous times and is nothing special. In fact the whole movie is pretty predictable but none of that matters for the simple little fact that you’re going to spend most of the run time either screaming or constantly looking behind you hoping something doesn’t grab you. This truly is one of the scariest horror films of the last few years. It does a great job at creating a very tense and freighting atmosphere with its incredibly eerie music. The short super 8 videos that play throughout the video are so well done and believable that they are fried into your head and well remember them long after the credits roll.
Ethan Hawke does a fantastic job and puts on a great performance as a once great but now struggling author who strives to be in the spot light again. The scenes where he is watching the videos are well crafted in that they convey his terror onto the audience. The rest of the cast does a great job although all of them are pretty flat and don’t have as much screen time. Derrickson does deserves a lot of credit for making a film that is so atmospheric as does Christopher Young, the film composer who makes another stand out soundtrack that’s as creepy as the film itself.
Sinister does have its faults though. The main mistake it makes is the same error that many mainstream horror films make and that’s simply showing too much, the villain is over exposed. When Mr. Boogie is first shown it is a very shocking thing to see and it takes a few minutes to register but by the time the end credits roll he’s not as freighting because he wasn’t kept in the dark. The very last scene was a bit of a disappointment only because it felt silly and pointless and should have been kept out of the film.
Sinister is a must see movie for any horror fan. The fact that it’s not all that original doesn’t matter because the execution of the film is so well done. Truly good horror films are so few and far between that when one comes out you as a horror fan are almost obligated to see it. Overall I highly recommend this to any horror fan, 4 out of 5.