I am always on the lookout for good horror. Despite my best efforts, I rarely come across a movie that scares me. I found one.
Sinister tells the story of Ellison Oswalt, a true-crime writer whose best work was ten years ago. In an effort to get his mojo back, he moves his family to a small town in the middle of nowhere to chronicle the murder of four people and the disappearance of the family’s youngest daughter. And in a move that the local sheriff notes is in “bad taste,” he decides to move into the house previously occupied by the murdered family. Did I mention the family was murdered in the back yard, hanged from the branch of a particularly sturdy tree?
Things start to go hairy when Ellison discovers a box of Super-8 films in the attic of his home, films that shouldn’t be there (we are treated to a crime scene photo showing an empty attic). One of the films depicts the murder of the people Ellison is investigating. But when Ellison watches some of the other films in the box—spanning several decades—he finds that each one depicts another family, and another murder. But when Ellison makes out the image of the killer in one of the films, that’s when things take a turn for the worst.
I tell you what, this movie is freaky-deaky from the word go. From the very first frame, it’s go time. I am reminded of the similarly named Insidious, a movie that was wonderfully horrific until the last 15 minutes or so, when it sorta falls apart. This movie doesn’t fall apart. And the thing is, it almost never lets up. There are very few opportunities to relax. The Super 8 films harken back to Peeping Tom, the excellent 1960 horror film that was so far ahead of its time that it destroyed the director’s career. But the heart of the movie is purely supernatural and altogether unsettling. The fact that the family dynamic is so well-established only makes it worse. I can honestly say that Sinister is one of the scariest movies I have seen since The Ring.
Highly recommended for anyone who loves a good scare.
Bonus: Sinister manages to breathe new life into the jump scare as well. There is one scene where the lead character sees something that makes him jump out of his chair. I almost fell out of mine.
Bonus, with a spoiler: So I always say, if you end up in a place where something crazy is going on, just move. Yeah, didn’t quite work in this one…