All of the above can be said of director Scott Derrickson’s terrifying movie which tore through FrightFest. It comes screaming onto screens across the country in time to save audiences from the found footage failures and bland rabid remakes which have given horror a bad name – in the worst way.
Sinister centers on true-crime novelist Ellison, played by the brilliant Ethan Hawke. After writing a series of hit books, he has fallen from grace and is desperate to regain his fame and fortune by penning another best seller.
Willing to do anything to achieve his goal, he moves his unwitting wife and kids to a new town and a new house. A house which happens to be the site of a family massacre where the youngest child was abducted never to be seen again.
Hoping to solve the horrible crime and find the missing infant ,Ellison’s life takes a nasty turn when he finds a box of Super 8 films in the attic and a projector. Suddenly he becomes involved in a deeper, darker murder mystery, more disturbing than he ever imagined.
Captivating and creepy from the opening, Sinister packs in plenty of scares from start to finish whilst also creating a horrifyingly unsettling atmosphere that engulfs you in same way that it grips Ellison. It refuses to let go until the credits roll and lights come up in the cinema.
Even then, some ideas and scenes will stay with you long afterwards. Derrickson, the man behind The Exorcism of Emily Rose also co-wrote the script with C. Robert Cargill and manages to craft some mesmerizingly memorable moments.
Sinister’s best trick is its clever tight rope walk down the fine line between real life serial killers and supernatural entities. This gives its first half all the more impact as the audience is unsure who or what is really involved in the gruesome murders.
It is true to say that once the film falls on one side (over the other) some of the power is lost. But by this point you will be so involved in the scintillating story and compelling characters you will barely notice.
Hawke is great, managing to remain both sympathetic yet selfish at the same time. It is through his eyes that we witness most of the most horrible and terrifying times.
There is some comic relief thankfully brought to the film by James Ransone from The Wire. He plays a dopy deputy. All the other supporting cast including Vincent D’Onofrio and Juliet Rylance as well as the children are all equally excellent.
By far one of the best horror films of 2012, Sinister delivers a story and scares far above other horror films. Some films titles say it all, and with Sinister that is most definitely the case.
Read our Interview with Sinister writer C. Robert Cargill Here