Director: Scott Derrikson
Michael Hall D'Addario/Trevor
A true crime writer (Ethan Hawke) moves into a new home with the wife and kids to work on his new book, one that he hopes will put him back in the spotlight. While unpacking he finds a box in the attic. In it: a projector and rolls of 8 millimeter films. What’s on them? It isn’t old episodes of GI Joe! To hell we go!
Halloween season on the big screen is exciting again! Yes I am talking about Scott Derrickson's not a remake/reboot/re-imagining, Rated R and intelligent horror film SINISTER. Man that felt good! Not only was it Derrikson’s best work to date (in my useless opinion), it was also one of the most fulfilling modern horror celluloid injections!
From its novel and unsettling opening frames, my "Arrow Sense" hinted that I may be in for something special with this one and as the clock kept ticking down, and the film’s grasp squeezed tighter around my nads, I was happy to see that it was right. SINISTER slashed out a potent set up (a reverse found footage movie if you will - the lead finds the footage and we witness his story), slyly established its own devilish mythology (the evil at play here was compelling, and yes had sequel written all over it) and then took me on a road trip to creepy/disturbing land! SINISTER so reminded me of a horror film from the 70’s, the hey-days of the genre. It went out of its way to establish its characters, relationships and their motivations, making sure I believed and cared about the people in jeopardy. It then slow burned its way through its storyline, sucking me in deep into its mystery, giving me the willies left, right and center, back-handing me hard like I was a Bond girl in a Connery flick, to then finally pulverize me via its final act. What else can a genre fiend ask for!?
Another key strength here: You could not have asked for a better actor than Ethan Hawke to carry this one. Dude hit all the right notes and his performance actually affected me as I sank in my seat. There was one particular bit that had Hawke’s character lose his beans, and his nervous energy, the fear on his freaking face, sent chills down my spine. Kudos Hawke! The lad was well supported by Juliet Rylance (who shared a genuine chemistry with Hawke), James Ransone who brought much needed organic and circumstantial comic relief, Fred Dalton Thompson as the entertainingly deadpan Sheriff and child actors Clare Foley and Michael Hall D'Addario who sold their roles 100%.
The flick pounded me into the ground aesthetically as well! The visuals effects were in-camera, adding further cred to the happenings (no CGI here) and the lighting was bleak with lots of plays with shadows (brrr). Derrikson's visual approach was again, akin to a flick from the 70’s as opposed to today’s more “cutty” and “shaky” tendencies. Am talking static shots, unnerving tracking shots, involving POV shots and lots of slow pans that had me cringing as to what was coming. All that macabre goodness was "Roided" up by genre veteran Christopher Young's INCREDIBLE score, which I would describe as industrial with some sampling. It was a truly unique audio experience and you bet your ass that I’m going to purchase that score and use it for writing. Definitely the most edgy and eerie horror film soundtrack of the year!
Add to that all that freaky sound design, a handful of scares that got me real good (one of them made me laugh nervously like a school girl sniffing glue), some moments of high tension and just an overall thick aura of dread and danger that kept me on my toes throughout and you get a new American horror classic! I haven’t been able to say that with a straight face for a while, but I just did it now. And I mean it! Any complaints? Minor ones. Some of the child actors didn’t fully sell me (and I don’t mean Hawke's onscreen kids), so that took me out a tad in some instances. One surprise was semi see through, but with that drilled, getting there kicked my ass nonetheless, so it evened out. But my biggest peeve was that I felt the ending held back and was a bit rushed. It's funny cause I heard people say they thought the film was too long. Me? Another 5 to 10 minutes tagged to that last act would’ve been ALL GOOD!
All in all SINISTER was the real deal! A mature and frightening horror film that got under my skin and stayed there afterwards. It was an ideal Halloween watch! One to see and one to own! Gracias to all involved! I soooooooo needed a horror movie like this!
We get some slit throats and some cruel kills that I won't reveal in the name of not spoiling the surprises. Not overtly graphic but disturbing all the same.
T & A
None and I didn’t need any for this one,
A horror flick from Hollywood released around Halloween aimed at us lowly adults instead of the target teenage audience or little girls that still wet their pants. Wha???? Is this a joke? Is there a hidden camera somewhere? Am I gonna wake up tied to a lawn chair to then be pulled in a swimming pool? Nope it's real. About f*cking time! SINISTER had most of its bases firmly covered; acting, chilling visual style, effective scares, potent suspense, originality, a killer score by Christopher Young and a finale that hit home. Granted some of the kids didn’t fully sell me and the cap off would have benefited of more breathing space, but those were minor scratches on what was in my world, a horror work of art! Yup SINISTER was near flawless and I personally hope it makes a lot of money and starts a new trend on the big screen: original horror made for adults! Wouldn't that be something! I have a dream...
The story came from former AICN writer C. Robert Cargill.
Look out for an uncredited cameo by Vincent D'Onofrio as Professor Jonas.