Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Sinister (2012, Scott Derrickson)
A true-crime writer and his family move into a house where a family was murdered (his family is oblivious) so he can research the case for his latest writing project. While looking in the attic, he discovers a box full of Super-8 reels labeled as to imply they are home movies from the previous residents. Upon viewing the film, he sees that the family merriment captured on the grainy, soundless reels quickly turns into a group murder. The rest of the spools end in similarly macabre fashions - drowning, burning, a lawnmower massacre, etc... Apparently, each family shown being cleverly killed on camera was inexplicably missing ONE child. The writer then notices an eerie, ghoulish figure present in each of the films and attempts to get the bottom of this string of mysterious slayings...
There were some things this movie did well, like the Super-8 murders were shown using sounds from dark-ambient bands, which added a very creepy and atmospheric tone to these scenes. Plus, I NEVER thought I'd hear the Norwegian drone band, Aghast, in a mainstream production! I'll be honest, I was SURPRISED and a bit over-joyed by this one detail. Aside from the music, the performances from Ethan Hawke and Juliet Rylance were quite believable.
On to the negative. The 'creepiness' factor aside from the intermittent "found footage" segments, was pretty weak, mainly due to the excessive use of cliche 'jump scares' (unknown banging noises, some pointlessness involving a kid with night terrors, etc) and the inevitable atrophy into a standard 'kid ghost' culmination. I dunno, I really saw the whole "climax" to this movie as highly 'phoned-in' and cheesy - with the 'ghost children' making the "shhhhh" gesture with their finger up to their lips at the camera. Ugh.
I think "Sinister" COULD have been a really cool supernatural-themed horror flick - possibly along the lines of "Insidious" - if it had just made an attempt at some kind originality in the conclusion. It was just FAR too mundane and predictable. Haven't we had ENOUGH ghost kids at this point? I know we're currently living amongst the "Paranormal Activity" generation who can't get enough "found footage" re-hashings and pale-skinned ghost kids, but when is enough ENOUGH?