Ellison Oswalt is a true crime novelist who has just moved his family into the house of a heinous crime. Ellison doesn't tell his family the specifics of the crime, but when he discovers a box of mysterious and deeply disturbing home movies, him and his family are dragged into a nightmarish experience of supernatural origin. Scott Derrickson's Sinister is a creepy and fun film that owes just as much to DePalma's Blow Out or Antonioni's Blow Up, as to other supernatural films. The film plays somewhat like a mystery as Hawke's character attempts to figure out the truth behind the heinous crime and the connection which exists between the tapes. Lots of time is spent with Ellison as he dissects the images, looking for clues. This actually adds a nice wrinkle to a rather tired genre, keeping Sinister much more fresh and interesting than many similar films. Ellison is a man who is tormented by his inability to achieve the level of success and fame he desires, even going so far as to sacrifice his family's well-being as shit begins to hit the fan. Some may find Ellison's character to be stupid or unlikeable but I found that the film covers its tracks well, showing just how desperate Ellison is to have major success again as a writer. On the horror front, an argument could be made that Sinister is too reliant on jump scares but I think they are more complimentary to a solid atmosphere which is created in the film with sound and image. The film isn't particularly gorey or violent but the Home Videos are really disturbing and inventive, really adding to the overall creepiness of the experience. Sinister isn't perfect but it's a creepy, entertaining experience and one of the better studio horror films to come out in recent years.
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