Director: Scott Derrickson
Stars: Ethan Hawke,James Ransone & Juliet Rylance
Film #25 of The December Project
I am a huge horror fan, and with quality horror films being scarce in recent years I have been putting any horror film that is better than adequate on a pedestal (I.e 'Insidious'). 'Sinister' has seemingly been received as one of these films, I have heard good things as well as bad about film (I.e 'Insidious') so I pretty much entered the film, determined to enjoy it.
Ellison Oswalt is a successful best selling author who specializes in writing books that illustrates incapable police officers. When writing his latest book, he and his family move to a quiet little town with a horrific past, and into a house that saw the death of a family, little to the knowledge of the rest of his family. Now, the past returns to haunt Oswald, threatening to destroy him and his family.
When reading reviews for 'Sinister' you may see the a common thread of critics saying that the films build was good but it let itself down with a weak latter half, well you can add me to that list. 'Sinister's first 45 minutes or so are very entertaining and intriguing, the film builds very well, with the home films footage being very creepy and effective. Then 'Sinister' falls of the rails and never quite recovers.
Its last 50 minutes are riddled with horror film cliches and unoriginal ideas, that makes it feel like any other ghost story released in the last decade. The use of creepy looking children and continuous jump scare moments are more tiring than effective. It all builds to are unimaginative ending that is more of a groaner than a screamer. There is an effective scene though where Hawke is walking around the house and is unaware of the ghost children lurking around him. The film is also so damn under lit aswell, I know the dark is scary, but we need to be able to see the damn film.
As I said though, the first half is very effective, It creates tension so well that when the last half rolls around, its even more disappointing.
I have recently grown an appreciation for Ethan Hawke, after seeing the brilliant Before Sunrise and Sunset films, I think its now impossible to see him as anyone else other than Jessie the character I love from those films, but I digress, hes good here, he really elevated the film. The rest of the cast is pretty forgettable other than Vincent D'Onofrio,who is criminally underused and James Ransone as a very Edward Norton-esque Deputy.
This is a very hard film to rate, due to it being practically film of two halves, one good the other bad. Ill settle on the 2.5 stars. I reiterate, I liked the first half, it was effective and built tension very well, the second was riddled with cliches and inconsistencies. Another passable modern horror film, but at it least it was better than 'Paranormal Activity 4', that counts as something right ?