Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sinister (2012) - Review

   As August is over halfway over, the true blockbusters are finished, at least for the time being. But there will be a release of yet another sequel, Sinister 2, as summer winds down into the lighter months of fall. Before the film is released however, I felt the need to revisit it’s predecessor, the horror film Sinister.
   Nearly a decade ago, writer Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke) wrote his best-selling true crime novel Kentucky Blood. After all of these years, Oswald is desperate for a way to duplicate this success, moving his family into a new home in which there was a recent unsolved and gruesome murder. The discovery of a box of 8mm film in his attic leads Ellison into a downward spiral, losing his mind slightly with each passing day.
   There are very few horror films I even give the time of day as I often find them very un-scary and overall clichéd to the highest extent. And while Sinister certainly has its share of clichés, it’s able to get a pass by presenting them in an inventive concept. For a genre as large as horror is, creating an inventive idea is increasingly harder as each year passes, but Sinister takes a new spin on some older ideas while sprinkling in a little of it’s own DNA.
   Ethan Hawke is the shining element of the film.  The actor delivers an astounding and purely convincing performance as the writer disturbed but engrossed by the flickering horror before him. The performance is certainly Hawke giving it his all and it pays off, making the stakes feel much more real and in turn the horror that much more horrifying. While Hawke is largely the only character on screen for most of the slightly long run time, he is offered some support from Juliet Rylance, who plays his loving if not irritable wife Tracy, and James Ranstone, playing a helpful Deputy who just so happens to be a huge fan of Oswald.
    Scott Derrickson, the director, makes use of the horror conventions really well, and if you’re vulnerable to them you’ll find the film creepy and unsettling for much of the time.  And while he improves on a less than stellar script, the effects are still felt, as Derrickson can only do so much with an iffy script. The overall dark state of the film keeps you largely in the dark, both literally and metaphorically. Music and sound cues play a key part, as they do in any horror film, to set up an atmosphere for the spooky activities to occur.

    Overall Sinister is a solid horror film, but nowhere near being great. The film combines pretty standard elements of horror but it’s not the combination of these clichés but rather the way they are executed to weave the story together. The film is slightly longer than it should be and the script isn’t quite up to par, but Sinister manages to get passed these issues and still bring us a very creepy atmosphere, thus making it a horror film that accomplishes what it set out to do. (6.0/10)