Our haiku review of Sinister:
Family moved house,
Spooky movies found in the attic,
This will not end well.
A writer played by Ethan Hawke moves his family into the pagan equivalent of an Indian Burial ground while looking for his next big story. On finding a box of 8mm film in the loft of the house where a recent murder/suicide took place, the lead believes he has incontrovertible proof of a serial killer. With thoughts of further fame and fortune stemming from the discovery, greed drives a wedge firmly through his life. After a series of “sinister” episodes, a human cause to the killings begins to look less likely and as the family attempts to escape, events takes a turn for the worst.
The script writer Christopher Robert Cargill made an appearance for a Question and Answer session during the Frightfest showing, and explained how the movie came from a nightmare had after seeing the Ring. The experience scared him and he was left shaken by it for a few days. After some reflection he decided, if it had that effect on him it would make a pretty decent horror title. Given this, the sections shot on 8mm showing the demise of other families are perhaps unsurprisingly the most effective in the film. Ethan Hawke’s writer becomes suitably obsessed in a bid to regain his lost heat, however a decent acting performance is over-shadowed by lack of real bite from the antagonist. Bughuul the pagan deity involved appears bored and is revealed in odd ways that often only work given the limited peripheral vision available to a film camera… a close-up peekaboo shot from slightly off one side of the frame stands out as truly absurd. The spoilerific trailer linked in the footer of this review shows this off to great effect.
Originally shown on the Sunday late night spot at Frightfest 2012, the film followed some amazing material (Sleep Tight, Berberian Sound Studio and the Short Film Showcase) and would have had to be very special to top them. Whilst there were undoubtedly some eerie parts, an over-reliance on jump scares and comparison to what we saw before relegated the film to the bargain basement experience category. I’m going to give this a very average No thumbs Up award.
Thanks to my other half for the haiku.