As always, clicky on the hypertext title for the full review!
When I first saw this film, I hated it. Couldn’t stand it. Pissed me off, even. Then I realized; I’d been scared through the whole thing. It’s a feeling I hadn’t experienced in the movies in quite some time. It was such a strange feeling I couldn’t recognize it. Okay, there’s a little bit of pissed off still left in me, but that’s for a good reason; Sinister is non-stop horror that whips together the best of ghost stories, urban legends, mythology and lowdown slasher tropes. It also gives no quarter to the characters in the story, and as such gives relief to the audience. Forget jokes that break up the tension, because Sinister is here to do one thing and one thing only: scare the [Radio Edit] out of you.
Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke, doing a masterful job) is a true-crime novelist that believes his calling is A Great Important Thing that can have nothing else get in the way. So obviously, he’s broke. Hey looky; a house where some wicked horrible murders occurred is on the market. For cheap! A place to live and research a new book; what could go wrong? Um, have you seen the poster for this movie, dude?
File this film under the “it’s still here/pissed/deadly” genre of ghost stories, but if you’re already figuring the plot out in your mind, don’t bother. Does Sinister flip all the usual switches? Yes. There’s strange happenings, a horrible history, an extended past that Ellison uncovers, and kids acting weird. Ellison doesn’t go to the po-po when stuff starts happening, and BTW his family isn’t in on the real story of the house. You know it, you love it. 20 minutes in and I’m placing my bets as to what’s gonna go down. But then Sinister does something that so many of the current crop of ghostly movies forgot to do; it takes what you’re expecting it actually scares the crap out of you.