Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The Stars: Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, James Ranson
The story: A true crime novelist discovers a box of mysterious, disturbing home movies that plunge his family into a nightmarish experience of supernatural horror
The buzz: From the producers of the ‘Paranormal Activity’ series and the director of ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’
insing.com says: Ethan Hawke plays Ellison, yet another frustrated writer with issues. He's a true-crime writer with one hit almost a decade ago, who moves into a house that's witnessed a gruesome murder. It’s probably going for cheap, hoping it will revitalize his flagging career.
He discovers a box with some Super 8 reels, which may link the house to murders all the way back from 1966. He also discovers there's a symbol in the films that is linked to some nasty Sadako-like spirit that, predictably, is not too happy about being disturbed.
The found footage genre appears to yet have some steam. This film ties it together with a haunted house story and provides some surprisingly well-staged chills. It is a step away from the anonymous quality of many found footage films, yet extracts out what makes the genre work.
True to the film’s name, director Scott Derrickson, rather than just relying on jump cuts, manages to drag out the suspense. A scene where Ellison approaches a cardboard box along a corridor is effective
With a moody ambient score and a script that is a little sturdier than most horror films of the past decade, ‘Sinister’ makes up for its lack of originality with genuinely creepy moments.
By the way, this is definitely one of those films where you want to avoid watching the trailer, which spills too many of the chills.