#310 -- Sinister (2012)
Rating: 3 / 5
Horror movie are really good at creating trailers to reel people in with false hopes that they'll be scared shitless. I know that's the point of a trailer, and I'm glad that they're able to do this, for their own sake's. But sometimes it can be downright annoying. When I saw the trailer for Sinister, I knew that I had to see it. I was sure that it was going to be different from all the other shitty horror movies that come out these days. I just knew that it was going to be genuinely scary. Sadly, the scariest part of the trailer turned out to mean nothing at all in the actual movie. That's not to say that Sinister is a bad movie; it's just not at all what I'd hoped it would be.
Ellison Oswalt was a true-crime novelist who moved into a house where murders took place in order to do research for his newest book. He apparently had done this several times before; sometimes, he found clues the police had missed and helped solve the crimes, and in other cases his antics let killers go free. His last success was around ten years ago, and he was convinced that this one could be his comeback. This explains why he continued with his research even after everything went extremely wrong: he was obsessed. He had access to a bunch of home movies which showed exactly how a set of families were murdered in their homes. I'm not sure how he gained access to these films, since the police department (the sheriff, at least) absolutely refused to help him. I think he might have found them in the home's attic and checked into them just because. In each case, every member of the family was killed, except for one child, and that child was never seen again. Slowly, Oswalt began to link each murder together, proving that they were all committed by the same person. Or at least, that's what he thought. The main thing he noticed in the films was a ghostly figure that appeared in the shadows, as well as a strange symbol that was always painted somewhere in the families' homes. He did some research, got some professional help, and discovered that this "ghostly figure" was actually a demon called Bughuul who stole children's souls by way of digital images. Once a person saw him in the images, he was able to jump from his dimension to theirs.
All of this is very interesting. It sounds like an old folk tale or something, but as far as I can tell, Bughuul was created specifically for the movie. I was hoping this was a real myth, so I could do some digging and come out with something cool. But I applaud them for coming up with an original villain. Sinister works on certain points (several, actually), but it fails in the most crucial way. It does't rely only on jump-scares, as most ghost/haunting/demons movies do, which is always nice to see. There are a few of them thrown in, don't get me wrong, but it mostly relies on things that disturb you rather than scare you shitless. The old films of the families getting murdered were, indeed, quite sinister. They were disturbing to Oswalt as well as viewers. They were also creepy, artistic, and very well done. The characters were engaging as well. Ethan Hawke was great as the obsessed writer losing touch with reality and slowly losing his mind over his work. I could understand him. He was also very jumpy and easily spooked, which offered some comic relief (not that it needed any..) I could also understand his wife, Tracy, who was exhausted with him. I was actually worried about their marriage, which is a shocker. Most horror characters --aside from the villain--are extremely bland.
Even though the old films were great, they were used for too long. It was slow going, and it took a good while for anything to happen in Oswalt's reality. And once the line between the dimensions was erased, things got cheesy. The ghostly children showed up in Oswalt's house, but it looked like there was a slumber party going on and his kids' friends were trying to scare him. The kids weren't spooky at all. And that is where the movie fails. It's just not scary. Though it has a good idea and does a lot of things right, it just fails to offer up any real scares. It wasn't quite disturbing enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth. It didn't keep me up at night. It didn't make me hide behind my pillows with my heart racing. In the end, even though they did some things right, what they created was a forgettable horror movie that really tried.