Of course I saw Sinister. Of course I did. The trailer was enough to reel me in, as was a quote I saw on one such trailer: “This movie is going to f#@% a lot of people up.” Well said, reviewer. Well said. The first shot the audience gets is of four people being hung from a tree alive, two of whom are notably small children. And it only gets worse. Trust me.
Director Scott Derrickson has scared me before, in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. The thing about Emily Rose was that it wasn’t gory or violent. It was the suspense that got ya, and Sinister is no different. It’s not like freakin’ Saw or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s a smart, psychological thriller that will probably give you nightmares.
Sinister follows a family to a new home. The father (Ethan Hawke) is a true crime writer, and he’s moved his family to a new city where a crime recently took place. He plans to write his masterpiece about this crime, which involved the hanging of four members of a family and the disappearance of the youngest daughter in said dead family. He hopes to unravel the murder mystery and find the missing little girl. What he doesn’t tell his wife is that they’ve actually moved into the house where the murder took place. Nice job, buddy.
While unpacking, Hawke discovers a box of old super 8’s in the attic. Being of curious mind, he watches them and soon realizes that each super 8 features the murder of a different family, spanning decades, but in each case, the family is murdered and one child ends up missing, never to be found. The super 8’s have clever, sick titles like “Yard Work” and “Pool Party.” You’ll understand why once you see the movie.
There is a supernatural element to all this, involving a strange figure that shows up in various places in each super 8. Who is this figure? How is he involved? And is he possibly still haunting the house where Hawke has knowingly moved his innocent family?
This is not a film for the highly sensitive. It’s not for people who dot their I’s with little hearts. This is a dark, SINISTER movie. Again, like Emily Rose, it’s not gory. It’s what you don’t see that scares you the most. Or it’s what you see just along the edges. My own imagination did most of the work, to be honest, because behind every dark corner, there is sure to be something lurking. Be certain of that.
Director Derrickson also wrote this film, and the writing is impeccable. The storyline is horror, sure, but there’s excellent mystery here. The actors (especially Hawke and Juliet Rylance, who plays his wife) are intense, believable, and spot on in their performances. There were several moments when Derrickson “got me”—moments when I would whisper “no, no, no,” and then latch onto my poor husband in the darkened theater. There were also a couple moments, however, when I wondered why Hawke didn’t get his family and get the hell out of that house. I mean, seriously, how bad can things get before you admit to yourself they’re TOO BAD? Suspension of disbelief; yeah, you’ll have to do a little of that to believe a father would really put his wife and kids in such peril.
In conclusion, it’s like I told my parents: “Mom, don’t see this movie; Dad, you’ll probably like this movie.” It’s all up to you. Keep in mind, though, this is the best time of year to be scared out of your wits, and Sinister guarantees at least that.