Sinister Review

Movie: Sinister
By: Maniac E
Date: October 16, 2012

Once you see him, nothing can save you.

So 2012 didn't bring us the best of movies so far. The Possession left us hanging, V/H/S wasn't the best ever, and Smiley didn't bring a smile on my face. Now it's time for Sinister a movie by Scott Derickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose), was produced by the same people who made Paranormal Activity. With that fact in my head I went to the theater with the attitude "here we go again".

Ethan Hawke plays true crime novelist Ellison Oswalt, who has moved his family into a new home where he plans to write a new book about the disappearance of a young girl after her entire family was murdered. What his wife (Juliet Rylance) and family don't realize is that the house they moved into was where those horrible murders took place. Soon after moving in, Ellison finds a box in the attic containing reels of Super 8 film, each one that may hold an answer to the murders and disappearance while tying them into something much bigger.


The film opens simply and silently with film footage of four people, their faces covered in hoods with ropes around their necks, attached to a tree limb high above. It's an incredibly creepy sequence to watch and one we'll see over and over throughout the movie as it's used in a similar manner as the footage from The Ring. We're obviously not going to give too much away beyond that, but the simple premise involves a man trying to solve a mystery that keeps returning him to this box of Super 8 films, which offers the only clues to solve it, The more Ellison watches these horrifying films, the more he can't stop watching them as he becomes obsessed with figuring out how they connect to the disappearance of a young girl.


From the synopsis, it's easy to expect a haunted house tale reminiscent of The Amityville Horror or perhaps The Shining from Sinister, but in fact the closest point of comparison for the film is probably online series Marble Hornets – a no-budget, DV-shot found footage soap opera based on a Something Awful-born urban legend. Like Marble Hornets, Sinister gives only the smallest fractal glimpses of its monster: just enough to make you want to draw all the curtains in your house at night and, if possible, start sleeping in your closet with the door barricaded.


Sinister is mercilessly, sadistically frightening, the kind of film that greedy heirs might show their frail-hearted elderly relatives if they wanted to pull off the perfect murder. The jump scares are hit and miss, since every carefully constructed and perfectly executed jump has an evil twin in the form of a lazy door slam or random bump in the attic. Most of the fear factor, however, cames from the glimpses of the monster, which are just enough to make you very certain that you don't want to see it any closer up, from the oppressiveness of the setting (the film takes place mostly at night), and from the steady ratcheting of tension as more and more is revealed about the previous murders. It would be fair to say that the jump scares are employed as a crutch, but only in the sense that they're used to beat you further when you're already a quivering heap on the floor. It is a real bring your girlfriend with you show.


While the movie is getting good it still has to many factors in it making it just under the 4 star mark. Any smart horror fan who has seen enough of these movies will probably figure out where things are heading, and the ending that hammers home exactly what's been going on feels unnecessary and clunky. In the end it is a movie to watch in theaters for once, there are enough scares factors even if you see them coming. While not really original it still is a good ride.



Image quality

This film utilizes a stylized design that is meant to create a visual aesthetic that supports its thematic elements. The predominating palette is limited with little chromatic saturation which results in a sort of muted sepia. Blacks are deep, with appreciable gradations and dynamic highlights that surface when onscreen with mixed light/dark content. This is a predominantly dark film that contains many sequences shot in low lit environs and natural lighting. While there is some loss of visibility in dark backgrounds contrast and brightness levels aren't overdriven and work in tandem to preserve detail in dark and light elements onscreen. The applied filtering and cinematography have an effect on perceived resolution however images onscreen appear lucid and sharp. Close ups reveal lots of fine detail in the faces, hair and clothing worn by the cast members. Long range shots aren't resolved quite as well but appear dimensionally satisfying. This is an excellent high definition presentation that is revealing of the high production elements used in the film.


I think this is a well designed lossless audio presentation that plays well to the film's thematic tone. It effectively uses the entire sound field to elicit reaction to sounds emanating from differing vantage points and off screen cues. The soundtrack's recorded elements are enhanced by its rich clarity, and punchy dynamics that resonate through the room with tangible authority. Dialogue through the center channel is crystal clear and maintains a position of prominence within the front soundstage. The rear channels contain a mixture of spatial ambience as well as directional panning cues that effectively correlate with the events transpiring onscreen. This surround mix capably handles the subtle intricacies thrown at by this soundtrack as it augments the elements of fright in this purposefully creepy film.



Overall the disc is good and you get what the creators wanted to let you feel with the griddy style and noise images. As of the sound it good all the creepy noises are there and following your surround system all around you. The movie isn't ground breaking atleast it was a decent shot in the right direction!

E1 Entertainment






Scott Derrickson






Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance and James Ransone