With the weather cold outside, it seems an appropriate time for some cinematic chills while we stay warm indoors. Available now on DVD & Blu-Ray, "Sinister" takes us inside the mindset of a true crime writer while he does research on his latest book only to discover something more terrifying then he could have first imagined.
Co-Written & Directed by Scott Derrickson
In “Sinister” a true crime novelist (Hawke) is struggling to find his next big story, moves his family to a brand new town into a house where the horrific murder of an entire family took place, the family fights the move but are supportive as our novelist begins to wade into his next case. One night after finding a box of home movies in which other families are also brutally murdered, his investigation leads him to a supernatural entity responsible for it all that may be placing his own family in harm's way as his quest for the truth begins to get more dangerous than they would have possibly imagined.
To be fair, there aren’t a lot of new ways to generate new cinematic scares out there today, but when it comes down it the films that will be remembered and be considered entertaining are the ones that will be very well executed. Writer/director Scott Derrickson best known to horror fans from “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and from the big budget remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” at the very least knows how to craft a film, and this self contained ghost/demon story actually works astonishingly well. Admittedly there are more than a handful of moments where you have to liberally apply some ‘horror movie logic’ to the entire proceedings as there are some smaller points that will easily make any one do a head scratch, but it builds at such a methodical and compelling rate that the audience has no problem letting some logic points slide as they get wrapped up in the story. A big part of the films effectiveness was the original score by composer Christopher Young that builds in such a smart fashion adding additional layers of texture to the music in the later scenes as the narrative demands it and things get tenser during the course of the film. The cinematography and production was incredibly well done, making fantastic use of the surroundings as most of the film took place in one house and the contrast of light and dark along with the use of shadows was exceptional adding to the ever growing dark mood of doom as it built towards the conclusion. In spite of all these technically well executed moments, which can easily fall flat if you don’t have a lead that will buy into the proceedings and sell the story.
With this being his second ever entry into the horror genre pool with the first coming in 2009 with “Daybreakers”; Ethan Hawke sold the role of writer Ellison Oswalt very well. As a desperate man moving his family into a murder house, so that he can recreate his last big hit book that was over 10 years earlier, we get on board with Hawke fairly early as his obsession with the story that he uncovers runs the risk of becoming his undoing. He simply can’t as the expression goes “See the forest for the trees” as his obsession to get back on top and be a success for his family blinds him to his surroundings until it is too late. There are some solid supporting turns as James Ransone was solid as the local deputy who morphed from a fan into his investigative partner and Vincent D’Onofrio as a professor who helped him shine some light on the mystery but it all came back on Hawke’s character as we tracked his decent into the dark realms of this case as he slowly realized that he may not necessarily want the answers as he had initially hoped.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray were first rate as the crispness of the light and the dark is such a key element in this film. The special features include two different feature length audio commentaries with director Scott Derrickson and writers Derrickson and C Robert Cargill, 2 featurettes highlighting "True Crime" authors and a look at the stigma in living in a house where a crime or a murder was committed. There's also deleted scenes with optional commentary from Scott Derrickson.
“Sinister” works so well because it embraces its very nature, not trying to reinvent the genre but simply focusing on being as tense and scary as possible with its only goal being to put you in the house right alongside the unwitting family that just moved in.
4 out of 5 stars.
"Sinister" is now available for rent on DVD & Blu-Ray at video stores all across the country or via all major on demand services. You can also find it available for purchase at all major retailers like HMV, amazon.ca or iTunes.