“Sinister” Will Scare You

Posted: May 4, 2013 in Cover Your Mouth
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been dying to review this film for you guys because this film actually scared me silly. I can’t say enough about this piece of brilliant film-work, but I’ll do my best to keep this succinct. I hope you’ll forgive me in advance, because I will probably gush and squeal and do all those things horror-women do when they find something genuinely skin-crawling.

Sinister Movie Poster - Image compliments of Wikipedia.org

Sinister Movie Poster – Image compliments of Wikipedia.org

I’m honestly a little nervous because I’m not sure I can do this film justice in my review! But I intend to try.

Sinister” was written by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, directed by Scott Derrickson, and released in 2012. I had to look these guys up because I was unfamiliar with anything else they’ve done. When I saw their previous works, nothing jumped out at me. I have seen some of their other work, but none of it stuck with me. Therefore, “Sinister” was definitely Derrickson’s and Cargill’s living, breathing masterpiece.

Since I don’t do spoilers, let me give you a quick synopsis of the film. A true-crime writer (played by Ethan Hawke), who’s desperately seeking his next big project after a couple of reeking failures, moves his family into the home in which a horrific quadruple homicide had recently taken place. After finding a box of Super 8 film in the attic, the writer can’t help but watch the “home movies” for his research. By doing so, he unwittingly invites into his family an evil presence that threatens his sanity and his family’s lives.

Sounds pretty typical, right? Wrong. This movie was anything but typical and for a number of reasons. The elements I really enjoyed were numerous, but I’ll limit the discussion to the story logic (plot/storyline), score/soundtrack (music), character and character development, and villain.

First and foremost, this story made perfect logical sense. Yay! Because as I’ve mentioned before, horror movies are notorious for their irrational story lines. The storyline/plot was so well-written, in fact, that the “twist ending” wasn’t even a twist (if you’re like me and try to foretell the ending). The writer foretold the ending so thoroughly that I had called the ending about halfway through and thus was unsurprised, but was wholly satisfied that the storyline made such complete and unadulterated sense. Phew. I love it when I can write that about a film!

The score/soundtrack was brilliant. Effing brilliant. Like, if the soundtrack was a person I would have gleefully stripped down for it, it was that good. Yes, I know, TMI. Anyway, the brilliant use of sound and music in this film rivaled what I expect from Michael Mann or Martin Scorcese, both of whom I consider to be the best in Hollywood on the use of score/soundtrack. In “Sinister,” the music was frequently deep and percussive and a bit void of any discernible melody. What was so amazing about the music was it’s placement. When the music starts, you just know in a few short minutes there will be plenty of reeking poo to scrape off the walls. Without the music, or had it been used differently, “Sinister” would have been a different and far less terrifying film. I have the movie on right now as I’m writing this review and the music just made my head jerk up to look at the screen. Creepy, creepy, creepy…

The characters were well-written, well-developed and believable. As a writer, I identified with the main character, with his ego getting him in trouble and his willingness to be reckless in the pursuit of his project. The bloody writing is on the wall the moment we meet Hawke’s character–his level of motivation is NEVER good for the people he might care about. His family is well-written also. I liked his wife and empathized with her (I’ve seen her lonely look on my own husband’s face far too many times). Derrickson and Cargill wrote the children very well, both in terms of characterization and story development. The one aspect of the storyline about which I was completely WRONG (and I’ve already admitted how much I love to be wrong) had to do with the children. Maybe you’ll be as wrong as I was? I guess you’ll have to find out! I have to give a shout-out to Deputy So-And-So, as his character provided apt and much-needed comic relief to the dense and riveting ensemble. Enjoy him!

And finally the villain. Holy crap was he scary. I don’t want to say too much about him because I don’t want to spoil the film for you, but if he doesn’t make your skin crawl, you should probably talk to your doctor. (OMG that music… this movie scares the **** out of me!!) Seriously. Ask him for a referral to a therapist or something because this is one of the best villain I’ve ever seen, in terms of non-human villains.

Scariest moments in the film:

1. The first three minutes. I watched them four times on my first run through this movie. Yes, four times. There is so much going on in this short bit of film, you simply won’t catch it all the first time. In fact, kudos if you can even look away from the bodies. Don’t feel bad if you can’t because neither could I. But if you can’t, definitely back the movie up and look around the scene of that first three minutes.
2. The lawnmower scene. It made me scream out loud. Well, I said “Holy S**T” out loud, but I don’t think I’ve done anything like that since I was a kid. Watch for it. You don’t want to miss it.
3. (small spoiler here!) Scary ghoul children. One of my all time favorite motifs. You can’t miss this one, either.

Okay, that’s enough. I keep getting goosebumps from the music sabotaging my brain and this review is starting to border on emotional rather than analytical.

I don’t give star ratings for Hollywood films, as it’s time consuming to score. So I’ll just say that “Sinister” WILL scare you. And if it doesn’t, well, I’m concerned about your welfare.

Until next time, fellows, let “Sinister” fill your Under-Belly quota for today.

*I’d love to be in touch with you! Fill out this form and tell me a bit about what you write. Perhaps your work will end up reviewed on Morsels for Monsters! Blogging is great exposure, as you all know, and I’m totally into the all-for-one Indie culture.

  1. I was never really scared by many horror films. But I think it felt so real with the home videos that it actually made me cringe a little. I am definitely doing house checks before I ever purchase one in the future.

    • themadmack says:

      Right??? There was something SO unsettling about the home movie thing. Not just in the style of the filming of those shorts, but in the sense that it wouldn’t be so implausible to discover the box in the attic. You wouldn’t even really think twice about them being there (until you watched them, of course). And ditto on the house-history checks!

      I’m psyched you loved this film as well!

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