Film Review: Sinister
Sinister (or perhaps it should be called Slender Man – The Movie) is a film that shows Hollywood how horror can be done – simply and effectively. Whilst its content may not be anything new with so many horror films of today employing the gateway of the modern appliance (Poltergeist had a TV, One Missed Call used a phone, FearDotCom had the Internet) – in Sinister’s case, a projector and a bunch of seriously messed up Super 8 footage – the film manages to maintain the frights to become one of the most infamous horror films on 2012.
Ethan Hawke gives a brilliant performance as the disconnected father, Ellison, a man obsessed with his last shot for glory as a true crime writer who finds that he actually desperately needs to maintain that distance from his family when his work begins haunting him and his children. Whilst he has to keep them away from the paranormal events, being strong to protect them, he has a great sense of vulnerability also as he becomes lost in despair. Yet is he also undeniably drawn to the darkness, paralleling our curiosity as an audience as he projects reel after reel of sickening videos. Juliet Rylance also plays a competent mother character, complementing Ellison’s obsession with her immense desire for him to be free from the appalling material he immerses himself in constantly.
Bughuul (‘Mr. Boogie’), the paranormal threat, might look like a crossover between Slipknot and Kiss but Nicholas King gives him some subtle movements and gestures that make him seem so terrifying that it will have you hiding behind your hands.
The distorted, eerie soundtrack complements the unease of the darker scenes well. The lighting is fantastically arranged, with the darkness setting the perfect tone against the harsh, bright flickers of the projector in the film’s freakiest scenes. The combination of found footage and traditional cinematography works very well, providing a strong contrast with the lengthy, slow-burning tension of the main sequences, punctuated with a powerful short burst of raw, punchy, horrifying footage. The ‘Lawn Work’ scene was a particularly shocking highlight.
Whilst the scenes can be a little repetitive and the creepy children are a little clichéd, the mood is consistently eerie throughout and the tension certainly crescendos as Ellison uncovers more and more about this petrifying mystery. The result is an effective, genuinely disturbing, suspenseful slice of psychological horror that will eat away at your nerves – no matter how seasoned you are in the world of horror films. You won’t be able to sleep well afterwards.